NEW YORK, MARCH 1 -- The stock market slipped off its post-crash peak today but showed enough determination to hold most of its recent gains.
The Dow Jones average of 30 industrial stocks bounced off its lows late in the day, closing down 1.16 at 2070.46.
With an hour to go before the close of trading, the average was down more than 13 points. But traders took the opportunity to buy stocks, pushing the Dow near Monday's close of 2071.62, its highest finish since the Oct. 19 collapse.
On the New York Stock Exchange, seven issues declined for every six that rose. Big Board volume totaled 199.99 million shares, down from 236.05 million the day before. The NYSE's composite index fell 0.28 to 150.18.
The market's lackluster numbers belied its resilience, some analysts said. The analysts noted that the market's previous post-collapse high Jan. 7 was followed the next day by a drop of more than 140 points.
The relative firmness of prices today suggested to some analysts that the market had finally found its balance.
Others were not so sure. Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer for First Albany Corp., characterized the market as almost lifeless and said uncertainty about the economy still was a hindrance to trading.
Issues swept up in the latest rash of takeover deals dominated interest as they had Monday, when the Dow jumped more than 48 points.
Among the most active stocks on the NYSE, Federated Department Stores gained 1 1/4 to a new high of 67 3/4 following R.H. Macy's takeover offer. Other results were mixed: Sears, Roebuck and Co. rose 1/2 to 38 1/4; General Electric rose 1/2 to 45; Pillsbury rose 1/4 to 37; Bethlehem Steel rose 7/8 to 21 3/8; Atlantic Richfield fell 7/8 to 76; and International Business Machines Corp. fell 1/2 to 117.
Standard & Poor's index of 400 industrials fell 0.62 to 308.81, while S&P's composite index of 500 stocks fell 0.60 to 267.22.
The Wilshire Equity Index of more than 5,000 actively traded stocks lost $3.69 billion in value to close at $2,632.042 billion.
At the American Stock Exchange, the market value index gained 0.45 to 288.91. The Nasdaq composite index for the over-the-counter market closed at 367.32, up 0.37.