NEW YORK, JUNE 8 -- The Dow industrials closed almost 35 points lower today, the average's fourth loss in a week that nearly erased the 80-point gain of the week before.
Today's loss came amid recurrent waves of index-arbitrage selling by program traders and profit taking by institutional investors.
Traders close to markets for derived-equity instruments said most of today's index-arbitrage activity was tied to the continued unwinding of positions before the June 15 quarterly ''triple-witching'' expirations of index futures, index options and common stock options.
But while program-related sell-offs were responsible for piling up deficits in major blue-chip indexes, the broader cash market itself was soft all day.
Industry groups such as computers and many of the consumer-related sectors -- especially retailers, but also foods, beverages, supermarkets, drugs, cosmetics and recreation -- were hammered by moderate but consistent selling pressures.
At the close, the Dow stood at 2862.38, down 34.95, while declines outpaced advances on the Big Board by a ratio of more than 2 to 1 on moderate volume of 142 million shares.
''I think we work lower from here,'' said technician Eugene Peroni Jr. at Janney Montgomery Scott. ''Since Monday the Dow has produced a number of rally attempts that have failed readily, and that's a sign of near-term exhaustion. I suspect we'll engage in some new base-building in the low 2800s or the high 2700s.''
Technical analyst Stan Weinstein, who publishes the Professional Tape Reader from Hollywood, Fla., said today's close portends a drop to between 2750 and 2800 on the Dow before new highs can be attempted.
Chief trader George Pirrone at Dreyfus Corp. said he saw nothing dire in the four-day losing streak. ''My feeling is that once people overcome the myopia of worrying about four sessions of declines, the market should snap out of its losing streak -- probably by next Tuesday.''
Among Dow component stocks, Boeing slid 1 3/8 to 82 1/2, high-flying IBM lost 1 7/8 to 118 3/4, 3M slumped 1 1/8 to 82 7/8, Merck gave up 1 1/2 to 80, Procter & Gamble dipped 1 5/8 to 80 and United Technologies sagged 1 1/4 to 58.
Stocks in the news failed to inspire the market materially, traders noted. Even the ''deal of the week'' -- the acquisition of powerhouse Beatrice Co. by ConAgra Inc. from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts for what analysts have deemed a bargain-basement price of $1.34 billion in cash and stock -- failed to inject much life into the market. ConAgra itself added a mere 1 1/4 at 33 1/4 on the composite tape despite a near universal opinion that the Beatrice purchase would be a boon. Spillover buying among food stocks was none too impressive, either. Heinz lost 1 1/4 to 33, while most big food processors suffered fractional losses.
And retailers suffered anew, with Gap Stores leading the pack, down 2 3/8 at 56 1/8 after a 4 3/8 slide on Thursday.
Movie stocks slumped on profit taking and speculation that the summer season would bomb. Walt Disney dropped 4 5/8 to 123 3/8, Time Warner gave up 2 1/2 to 107 3/4 and MCA lost 1 3/4 to close at 56 3/4.
The Dow transports fell 7.30 to 1201.28, while the utilities lost 1.45 to 212.46.
Among broad stock indexes, the Standard & Poor's 500 was down 4.44 at 358.71, the NYSE Composite down 2.16 at 196.05, the Value Line down 1.76 at 288.10, the Amex Market Value down 2.40 at 361.17 and the Nasdaq Composite down 3.22 at 460.87.