NEW YORK, AUG. 28 -- The Dow Jones industrial average gained 3 points today in quiet, narrow trading that saw most of the buying attention focused on smaller company growth stocks that still looked like bargains to bullish investors.

The Dow's modest advance lagged the broader market, where advances outpaced declines. The session was devoid of pronounced leadership except for a few integrated oil companies, and the day disappointed those who had hoped for dramatic follow-through buying after Monday's explosive 78-point Dow rally.

Still, stocks managed to hold their ground despite a gain of roughly $1 in the price of crude oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange and a weakening bond market in which the value of a $1,000 30-year Treasury bond declined $6.25.

"We're back to a neutral zone where {the market} could break either way, depending on the news in the Middle East," Ronald B. Doran, head of institutional trading at C.L. King & Associates, told Dow Jones News Service.

At the close, the Dow stood at 2614.85, up 3.22 after moving in a narrow, 18-point range all day, while advances outpaced declines by a modest margin. New York Stock Exchange volume was light at 127 million shares.

Among Dow components, leadership was lacking for much of the session and thin at the close. Procter & Gamble, an early leader, managed a 1 1/8 rise to 77, Texaco gained 1 3/4 to 62 3/4, Chevron added 1 1/8 to 75 5/8 and General Motors tacked on 1 1/8 to 40 1/4.

Among industry groups, large oil companies provided some market feature as they advanced broadly, albeit generally without flair. British Petroleum was up 2 1/2 at 81 1/2, Atlantic Richfield gained 1 7/8 to 134 1/8, Royal Dutch advanced 1 3/4 to 80 3/4, Kerr McGee moved up 1 to 47 3/4, Amoco added 1 3/8 to 55 3/4, Amerada-Hess rose 1 to 52 3/8, Mobil firmed 1 to 63 1/4, and Shell moved 1 1/4 higher to 53 7/8.

Among broad stock indexes, results were narrowly mixed. The Standard & Poor's 500 was down 0.10 at 321.34, the NYSE Composite rose 0.08 at 176.26, the Value Line was up 0.77 at 246.82, the Amex Market Value rose 1.05 to 321.78 and the Nasdaq Composite increased 1.59 to 382.86.