NEW YORK, AUG. 17 -- The Dow Jones industrial average settled 36 points lower today, giving Wall Street its fifth consecutive week of declining prices -- the longest sustained slide since 1987.
The Dow has now fallen 353 points, or 11.8 percent, in only 23 trading days since its July 16-17 twin record peaks at 2999.75.
Analysts attributed the decline today to the same underlying problems that carved 66 points off the Dow on Thursday -- continued high levels of military tension in the Mideast and investor concern over prospects of simultaneous economic stagnation and high inflation.
Global stock markets paved the way for today's trading, which saw the Dow drop 42 points in the first half-hour alone. Tokyo's Nikkei-225 index fell 3.5 percent, and by the time markets opened in New York, the German's Dax index was already off a sharp 3.6 percent.
Most traders said this morning's rapid acceleration of Thursday's decline was halted abruptly once the New York Stock Exchange's computer-program "collar" was activated just after noon, when the Dow reached a 50-point decline. The program curb mandates that sell-programs through the exchange's automated order system be executed only after upticks in the basket of stocks that make up program trades.
At the close, the Dow stood at 2644.80, down 36.64, while declines inundated advances on the Big Board by a ratio of 4 to 1. Volume swelled to 212 million shares from 138 million on Thursday, but much of it reflected today's double expirations of index futures and common stock options.
Among Dow components, Boeing fell 2 1/8 to 48 1/2 after the Wall Street Journal said orders for commercial jets would likely slow dramatically. IBM skidded 2 3/8 to 101 3/8, and full-point losses were posted by Allied Signal, Chevron, Eastman Kodak, Goodyear, Coca-Cola, Merck, Procter & Gamble and Sears. James River climbed 1 to 23 7/8 after announcing a restructuring.
The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 4.43 at 254.69, the NYSE Composite lost 2.54 to 180.19, the Value Line fell 4.43 to 254.69, the Amex Market Value gave up 3.22 to 333.61 and the Nasdaq Composite slipped 8.78 to 393.49.