NEW YORK, SEPT. 4 -- The Dow Jones industrial average closed down a point today, nearly erasing a 29-point morning loss, while the pace of trading lapsed to a new low for 1990. Traders generally described the post-holiday session as a non-event.

Only 93 million shares were traded today, compared with 96 million on Friday.

{In early trading Wednesday in Japan, however, the key index on the Tokyo Stock Exchange dropped a sharp 3 percent over continuing concern about the Middle East, the Associated Press reported. The dollar also fell against the Japanese yen.}

Stocks opened in New York in an inhospitable environment of rising oil prices, soft bonds, falling equity prices overseas and more troubling news from the Mideast. Volume was light during the initial, computer program-driven 29-point decline to 2585.

In the early afternoon, several flurries of program buying helped all but erase the market's deficit in the last two hours of trading.

At the close, the Dow stood at 2613.37, down 0.99, while declines held a narrow lead over advances on the Big Board.

As the Dow slipped below the 2600 mark in early trading, after nearing 2650 in last week's sporadic rally attempts, traders wondered how far toward the Aug. 23 low of 2483.42 the market could fall before investors were satisfied that an intermediate-term bottom was firmly in place.

"With the market this thin and with so little feature in it, most people are trying to figure out where this thing intends to bottom," said block trader Tim Hellman at Dreyfus Corp.

Strategist Michael Metz at Oppenheimer said, "I think the lows of the week were probably seen early today." Metz said he did not expect a decline much below today's levels for at least six to eight weeks. Metz said that stocks likely to benefit from an extended rally include food, beverage, tobacco and financial issues.

Technical analysts, for their part, remained divided over whether the market, in order to confirm a hypothetical bottom of 2483, must retest that low in coming days.

Veteran technician William LeFevre at Advest said he did not believe a retest was necessary, since the Aug. 23 decline to that level represented a "professional selling panic" that was similar to the "mini-crash" of Oct. 13, 1989, although the trading dynamics were different.

Among Dow components, all moves were fractional at the close, although General Electric, General Motors, Minnesota Mining and Merck were all down full points at midday. GE finished down 3/4 at 61 1/4, GM down 3/4 at 39, 3M down 3/4 at 78 and Merck down 1/8 at 81 1/2.

Among stocks in the news, Pinnacle West Capital Corp. led the NYSE's volume actives, down a sharp 3 3/4 at 12 3/8 on 1.7 million Big Board shares. Pinnacle, the holding company for Arizona Public Service, encountered heavy selling after weekend news that PacifiCorp, the Portland, Ore.-based utility that has pursued a hostile takeover of Pinnacle for the last 10 months, has agreed to back off in exchange for a $260 million power swap.

Broad stock indexes finished mixed. The Standard & Poor's 500 was up 0.53 at 323.09, the NYSE Composite up 0.16 at 177.13, the Value Line down 0.36 at 247.01, the Amex Market Value down 0.65 at 322.74 and the Nasdaq Composite up 0.46 at 381.67.