NEW YORK, OCT. 17 -- The Dow Jones industrial average rose 6 points today in choppy trading that was widely associated with anticipation of Friday's expirations of October options and futures contracts.
World crude oil prices, meanwhile, tumbled in hectic selling with markets positioned for further declines as traders refocused on the possibility of peace negotiations in the Middle East. November contracts plunged $2.17 to $36.72 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
But neither stocks nor bonds responded to moves in oil with the alacrity to which traders have become accustomed in recent weeks.
The stock market was also watching corporate earnings, which continued to run somewhat below expectations. And nervousness continued over federal deficit-cutting plans.
The 30-year U.S. Treasury bond was up 3/32 by the time stocks closed, after posting a meager 7/32 gain at midafternoon despite the substantial decline in oil prices.
At the close, the Dow was 2387.87, up 6.68, after moving as low as 2374 and as high as 2409. New York Stock Exchange volume was a moderate 161 million shares.
Among Dow stocks reporting earnings, Philip Morris slipped 1/4 to 45 after announcing third-quarter net at $1.01 per share, compared with 81 cents a year ago. The mean Wall Street estimate was for $1.02 per share in a range of 98 cents to $1.07, according to Zacks Investment Research in Chicago.
Coca-Cola also showed little reaction, dipping only 1/8 to 41 5/8, after announcing third-quarter earnings, including extraordinaries, at 58 cents per share, up from 51 cents a year earlier.
Elsewhere, AMR Corp. was one of a few whose earnings actually cheered investors. AMR rose 1 5/8 to 45 3/4 after reporting better-than-expected net earnings of $1.05 per share. Even though the year-ago net-earnings figure was a much heftier $2.16 per share, Wall Street expectations had been running in a range of only 40 cents to 80 cents per share.
In the financial sector, Citicorp eased 1/4 to 12 3/4 on talk that it may yet have to add more reserves to cover nonperforming assets. Big percentage losers included First City Bancorp of Texas, which plunged 2 3/4 to 5 7/8 in reaction to a poor earnings report released late Tuesday, as well as Banc One, which dropped 2 1/2 to 20 7/8, also in the wake of a disappointing earnings on Tuesday.
Student Loan Marketing Association (Sallie Mae) lost another 3/4 to 35 3/4 after a delayed opening after Tuesday's 6-point plunge on reports of an FBI investigation into alleged improprieties relating to the manner in which the federal government has been billed for interest payments on guaranteed student loans. Sallie Mae management denied any wrongdoing.
Broad stock indexes failed to confirm gains in the industrials. Even the Standard & Poor's 500 dipped 0.16 to 298.76 at the close, while the New York Stock Exchange Composite eased 0.05 to 163.59, the Value Line slipped 0.18 to 215.99, and the Amex Market Value lost 1.19 to 289.13, although the Nasdaq Composite rallied 1.34 to 326.78.