NEW YORK, SEPT. 19 -- The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 13 points today after generally gloomy remarks by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan to Congress, which were reinforced by pronouncements of a further "ebbing" of economic growth in a Fed report.

While Greenspan sent bonds into a small tailspin by emphasizing that rising inflation, spurred by higher oil prices, virtually precluded a meaningful drop in interest rates any time soon, he also said that chances of a recession have risen because of the surge in oil prices resulting from the Persian Gulf crisis.

The recession talk pleased bond traders, but the stock market, uncomfortable with predictions of an economic contraction, languished in a narrow, 14-point Dow range in dull afternoon trading.

The market got off to a poor start amid confusion over Dow component Merck, which failed to trade for 1 1/2 hours because of sell-side order imbalances. Analyst Patricia Lea at the investment boutique Vector Securities in Deerfield, Ill., took a swipe at Merck's Proscar product, which had been widely viewed as a "billion-dollar drug" for the treatment of enlarged prostates. Merck initially tumbled 4 points to 76, triggering a decline that took the Dow down as much as 15 points just before noon.

At the close, the Dow stood at 2557.43, down 13.86. Declining issues led advances on the Big Board on moderate volume of 147 million shares, the fastest pace in three weeks.

Chief trader Edward Collins at Daiwa Securities said, "You've got Rosh Hashanah starting tonight, you've got 'triple-witching' expirations on Friday, and you've got an important {Group of Seven} meeting on Saturday. The market may be 'on hold' for the rest of the week."

Among Dow components, Merck finished the day with a 3 1/8 loss at 76 7/8 in active trading, while General Electric expanded an early full-point loss to 2 1/2 at 56 1/8 on high volume by the close.

Boeing fell 1 1/4 to 44 in late trading, while Primerica, soft all day after Tuesday's tumble, dropped another 1 7/8 to 21 1/4. Procter & Gamble fell 1 1/8 to 75 1/4 and Coca Cola lost 1 1/2 to 39 3/4.

But IBM, a countertrend gainer all day, moved up 1 1/8 to 108 3/8, while Alcoa rose 1 3/4 to 69 7/8 and United Technologies gained 1 to 47 3/4.

Among percentage losers, American General plunged 6 3/8 to 33 5/8 after announcing that it will attempt to sell its home-service insurance companies, representing more than half current operating earnings. Management said the solicited buyout interest expressed so far has simply not been for the entire company.

Among industry groups, the surprise loss in Merck helped drag other pharmaceutical companies lower. Pfizer was down 1 at 71 3/4 and Abbott Labs lost 1/2 to 41 1/8, even though both these companies have drugs that are considered effective in the treatment of enlarged prostates, according to analyst Lea.

Other casualties among drug companies included Bristol-Myers Squibb, down 1 3/8 at 58 1/2, Eli Lilly, down 1 7/8 at 72, and Schering-Plough, off 1 3/8 at 43 7/8.

The Dow transports lost 13.14 to 888.31 as the speculative rally in UAL Corp. ended and the stock sank 5 to 100. The utilities rose 1.00 to 201.52, however.

Among broad stock indexes, the Standard & Poor's 500 was down 2.00 at 316.60, the NYSE Composite was off 0.97 at 173.91, the Value Line fell 0.73 at 240.77, the Amex Market Value was down 0.72 at 318.97 and the Nasdaq Composite declined 0.53 at 371.68.