NEW YORK, OCT. 3 -- The Dow Jones industrial average sank 15 points today as oil prices soared by more than $3 a barrel and prospects dimmed for congressional approval of the recently negotiated budget pact.
Stocks, which had rallied initially after Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told a House subcommittee that lower interest rates would "most certainly" result from a passage of the "credible" budget pact, were accompanied downward by both the bond market and the dollar.
The 30-year Treasury bond was off 11/32 as stocks closed, while the dollar skidded 0.65 yen to a new 14-month low against the Japanese currency and 0.0070 marks to near record lows against German currency on the first day of official German reunification.
At the close, the Dow stood at 2489.36, down 15.84, while declining issues outpaced advancing ones on the Big Board by a 9-to-5 ratio on lightly moderate volume of 135 million shares, contracting sharply from 188 million on Tuesday, 202 million on Monday and 201 million last Friday.
"The last few days we've had a lot of good volume," said trader Jim Irwin at Yamaichi International, "but there was decent institutional selling Tuesday afternoon and the pace was much slower today.
"At this point, I think a lot of people are prepared to wait and see what happens to the budget package. But there's no question that this week the big money managers have been in control of the market, more so than at any time in recent weeks."
Irwin suggested that very short-term direction in the stock market appears to be "a coin toss."
Among Dow components in a largely featureless market for individual stocks, General Motors, which softened progressively throughout the session, led the losers with a 1 5/8 drop to 35 3/8. GM daily car sales for Sept. 21-30 slumped 12.2 percent below the year-ago level.
Among industry groups, retailers suffered broadly as Dillard Department Stores was slapped by a 5-point loss to close at 75 1/4 after a brokerage firm reduced its recommendation for the stock. Sears gave up 1 1/8 to 25 3/8, Dayton Hudson lost 1 3/4 to 52 1/8, Gap slipped 1 1/2 to 48 5/8, Limited sank 1 1/4 to 13, J.C. Penny lost 2 1/4 to 42 3/4 and Wal-Mart skidded 1 3/4 to 27 3/4.
Other prominent losers included the semiconductors, where Motorola fell 2 1/2 to 64, Applied Materials slumped 2 to 23 and Intel dipped 1 1/4 to 33 1/4.
Telecommunications stocks gave back some of their recent gains as Pacific Telesis slipped 2 1/8 to 43, Southwestern Bell gave up 2 to 53 1/2 and Ameritech surrendered 2 3/8 to 62.
Recent advancing groups such as chemicals, rails and drugs encountered particularly broad selling, while bank stocks renewed their decline. Wells Fargo fell 1 3/4 to 45 1/4, Bankers Trust slipped 1 1/8 to 31 3/4 and First Interstate dropped 1 to 20 5/8, while battered Chase Manhattan eased 5/8 to 11 1/4.
Among prominent individual stocks, MCA rose 3 7/8 to 63 1/2 on continued speculation that a buyout by Japanese technology giant Matsushita. Unisys, halting nearly a week of declining share prices, rebounded 1/8 to 4, even as its convertible preferred dropped 3 3/8 to 10 1/8.
The Dow transports slipped 12.02 to close at 882.77, but the utilities eased only 0.32 to 202.46.
Among broad stock indexes, the Standard & Poor's 500 was down 3.81 at 311.40, the NYSE Composite down 1.79 at 170.80, the Value Line down 1.99 at 230.34 and the Nasdaq Composite down 4.94 at 351.45.