NEW YORK, SEPT. 7 -- The Dow Jones industrial average ended the week on an up note today, rising 23 points in light trading.
A bond market rally and buying by program traders undergirded the market.
Although traders were disappointed early in the day that the Federal Reserve did not take steps to lower interest rates following the latest government employment report, the disappointment quickly gave way to optimism spawned by falling oil prices.
At the close, the Dow stood at 2619.55, up 23.26, while advances led declines on the Big Board by a ratio of more than 3 to 2 on volume of 123 million shares.
For the week, the Dow managed a 5.19-point gain. Since its session low at 2459 on Aug. 23, the Dow has rebounded more than 180 points in nine trading days.
But today analysts still debated whether the "bounce" off the Aug. 23 low represents the beginning of a long climb back to 3000, nearly reached during the summer, or merely a resting point before more losses set in.
Market technician and Fed-watcher James B. Stack, who publishes the InvesTech letter from Whitefish, Mont., ended the week stressing that, despite the market's relative calm, the only safe place to be is fully out of the stock market.
"We've all heard the 'pat' answers on how to invest in today's tricky market," he said.
"People recommend diversifying with international funds, hedging with oil and natural gas stocks or holding food and drug stocks that are 'recession proof.' But in a bear market all these techniques spell disaster. ...
"And as for 'recession proof' stocks, we dare anyone to find us a single stock group that handled the sharp declines of 1969-70 or 1973-74 well. In a true bear market -- and this feels like one -- there's no place to hide but on the sidelines," Stack said.
But contrarian trader Bernard Schaeffer at Investment Research Institute in Cincinnati said, "Wall Street has taken a decline in a bull market and turned it into Armageddon. The headlines are ominous and scary, but we're as bullish as we've ever been."
Looking at polling results that show only 12 percent of futures traders as bullish, Schaeffer added, "These are screaming 'buy' numbers."
Among Dow components at the close of trading, IBM surged 3 1/8 to 105 1/2 on heavy volume as analysts took a deeper, more optimistic look at potential for the company's new computer lines. Most other prominent gainers were firm and stable all day. Coca-Cola picked up 1 to 42 1/8, Merck added 1 1/4 to 81 1/8 and Procter & Gamble tacked on 1 1/2 to 78. McDonald's, a latecomer to the leadership group, advanced by 1 1/8 to 27 7/8.
Equimark rose 1/2 to 5 3/8 following the resignation of Alan S. Fellheimer as chairman. MNC, bounding back from two days of selling, gained 3/4 to close at 6 3/4 in heavy trading. The Dow transports gained 16.08 to 908.28, bolstered not only by slumping oil prices but by an 8-point rise in UAL Corp. Prudential-Bache Securities Inc. told its clients it was more confident a proposed employee buyout would be completed. At the same time, there were rumors that investor Marvin Davis had rekindled an interest in United Airlines and that General Electric may be poised to accept a piece of the action.
The Dow utilities, which may have assumed the mantle of leadership in a "turnaround" market, some traders said, surged 2.65 to 200.90.
Among broad stock indexes, the Standard & Poor's 500 was up 2.94 at 323.40, the NYSE Composite up 1.45 at 177.51, the Value Line up 0.91 at 247.42, the Amex Market Value down 0.73 at 323.77 and the Nasdaq Composite up 1.60 at 380.38.