NEW YORK, AUG. 15 -- For the second day in a row, the Dow Jones industrial average closed nearly unchanged today as the financial markets waited for movement in the Middle East crisis.
"This is not an environment where one could be very aggressive," said Suresh L. Bhirud, chief investment strategist at Oppenheimer & Co., referring to the unsettled international situation.
All through the day, stocks and bonds moved in tandem, running counter to futures for oil and gold. Traders shrugged off continued weakness in the dollar.
Among stocks, investors continued their move toward safe havens such as drug and blue-chip consumer issues, with the Dow trading within a narrow 25-point range all day.
At the close, the Dow stood at 2748.27, up 0.50, while advances outpaced declines on the Big Board by a modest 8-to-6 margin on lightly moderate volume of 135 million shares, expanding slightly from 130 million on Tuesday.
Among Dow components, oil stocks languished. Texaco was down 7/8 at 62 3/8, Exxon dipped 1/4 to 52 and Chevron eased 1/4 to 77 5/8 as September crude-oil futures closed up 4 cents at $26.46 per barrel, after falling as much as 77 cents.
Among active issues, AmBase Corp. plunged 4 3/4 to close at 2 3/4 after it announced on Tuesday that it will sell its problem-laden Home Insurance unit to Vik Brothers International for $544 million in order to pay down debt. But the sale leaves AmBase essentially a thrift holding company that is, nonetheless, still burdened with debt.
Among industry groups, neither integrated oil companies nor gold-mining shares moved dramatically, but recession-hedge plays such as foods and drugs benefited from continued buyer interest.
Among the food processors, Kellogg rose 1 1/4 to 66 5/8, for example, while Heinz gained 1 1/8 to 34 3/4 and Ralston Purina added 2 1/4 to 97 7/8.
Among the drug stocks, Johnson & Johnson gained 1 1/8 to 68 3/8 following release of a preliminary clinical trial for a drug that could be a treatment of an intermediate form of AIDS. Also gaining were shares of Rhone-Polenc Rorer, which closed at 64 1/8, up 2 7/8, and Merck, which added 1 1/8 to close at 64 1/8.
On the American Exchange, Alza Corp. Class A rose 1 1/4 to 46, while Forest Laboratories gained 1 1/8 to 42.
Fruit of the Loom rose 1 1/8 to close at 12 5/8 after top executive William Farley sold 3.75 million Class B shares to a Channel Island holding company for $11.50 apiece.
The Dow transports slipped 6.03 to 961.68, while the interest-sensitive utilities rose 0.69 to 205.17.
Among broad stock indexes, the Standard & Poor's 500 was up 0.67 at 340.06, the NYSE Composite rose 0.44 at 186.54, the Value Line was up 0.49 at 263.62, the Amex Market Value rose 0.70 at 340.64 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 1.12 at 411.45.