NEW YORK, SEPT. 14 -- The Dow Jones industrial average sank 18 points today as dour economic news pulled down the price of stocks, bonds and the dollar on New York markets.

Volume remained light and trading was regularly punctuated by both arbitrage and asset-reallocation sell-programs, traders said.

Influences in several other markets were distinctly negative for stocks.

At the close, the 30-year Treasury bond, was down 21/32, while junk bonds plunged on the news of a drop in August retail sales. Bonds issued by R.H. Macy & Co. and Carter Hawley Hale registered particularly sharp losses.

October crude-oil futures settled a hefty 69 cents higher at $31.76, rapidly approaching the highs of more than $32 per barrel that were recorded immediately after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on Aug. 2.

And the dollar was up a little more than half a yen and a quarter pfennig against the German mark, but the rally was mild considering the sizable losses the dollar has suffered this week.

With such a backdrop, and with negative brokerage recommendations for stocks ranging from computer maker Digital Equipment to farm-equipment manufacturer Deere & Co., there was little surprise that stocks were lower and losers outnumbered gainers on the New York exchange by more than 2 to 1.

At the close, the Dow stood at 2564.11 on light Big Board volume of 133 million shares. On the week, the Dow fell 55.44 points.

Some tape-watchers complained that, as institutional trading volume has ebbed this week, program traders have picked up the slack.

"The market has been 'mugged' this week simply because the recent dollar volume of trading in the futures market has far exceeded that for the cash market," said strategist Bernard Schaeffer, who writes the Daily Trader at the Investment Research Institute in Cincinnati.

On Thursday, for example, when the Dow tumbled 43 points, the dollar volume of Standard & Poor's 500 futures trading was fully 2.5 times that of the NYSE, Schaeffer said. Among Dow components, Boeing was off 3/4 at 46 1/8, General Electric off 7/8 at 59 1/2, IBM off 5/8 at 104 3/8, Procter & Gamble off 1 1/4 at 75 1/8 and Westinghouse off 1 5/8 at 29 7/8.

Among volume actives, Digital Equipment continued its march to new 52-week lows, falling another 2 7/8 to 56 3/8 after a 2 3/8 loss on Thursday. This week, the stock has plunged 8 7/8 on a closing basis, or 13.6 percent, amid what traders have described as some poor company presentations to brokerage analysts and a flock of earnings downgrades.

Among prominent percentage movers, chemical, metals and defense specialist Olin Corp. tumbled 2 7/8 to 37 1/8, Deere lost 2 3/8 to 51 1/8 on brokerage downgrades, Gillette was slashed by 2 1/8 to 55 1/8, medical-services outfit Bausch and Lomb convalesced after a 2 1/4 drop to 63 1/8, First City Bancorp Texas slumped 1 5/8 to 14 1/2 and Calfed tumbled 1 1/8 to 6 7/8.

The Dow transports lost 8.70 to 889.42, while the utilities slipped 0.87 to 199.20.

Among broad stock indexes, the S&P 500 was down 1.82 at 316.83, the NYSE Composite down 1.01 at 174.15, the Value Line down 1.86 at 242.87, the Amex Market Value down 0.56 at 321.45 and the Nasdaq Composite down 1.77 at 374.41.