NEW YORK, OCT. 22 -- The Dow Jones industrial average, fighting back from a 35-point morning loss, closed the day off a mere 4 points as a decline in oil prices outweighed technical selling pressures associated with last Friday's futures trading expiration.
"The bigger market has been resilient here," said Jon Groveman, president and chief trader at Ladenburg, Thalmann.
At the close, the Dow stood at 2516.09, down 4.70, although advances outpaced declines on the New York Stock Exchange by about a 4-to-3 ratio, and most broad stock indexes were higher. Big Board volume was a moderate 152 million shares.
General Electric skidded 1 3/4 to 53 3/4 in the wake of a Barron's article that suggested that its huge GE Financial Services unit may yet have to pay the piper for its considerable exposure to leveraged-buyout and real-estate loans.
Stocks reporting earnings today represented a mixed bag, traders said. Westinghouse finished down 1 1/4 at 25, and Minnesota Mining eased 1 1/8 to 78 7/8 following quarterly earnings reports that disappointed some traders. But American Express tacked on 1 to 19 7/8 following its report of a modest drop in earnings.
On the American Stock Exchange -- whose composite index, like the Dow, failed to keep pace with the broad market -- Maxxam Inc., with interests in aluminum, forest products and real estate, plunged 6 1/2 to 38 after announcing disappointing earnings of $3.18 per share, compared with $3.98 a year earlier.
Money-center banks regained some of their luster after Bankers Trust recorded earnings at the high end of expectations. Wells Fargo surged 2 1/4 to 49 5/8, First Interstate gained 1 1/4 to 21 7/8 and Security Pacific added 1 1/8 to 22 5/8. Bankers Trust itself traded up only 3/8 to close at 34.
Freddie Mac gained 7/8 to close at 33 after a heavy and volatile day of trading following last week's announcement of increased loan losses. Fannie Mae, which got caught in Freddie's downdraft last week, also added 1 today to close at 29 after announcing it would have record earnings in 1990.
Some previously battered technology issues also posted notable gains, however. Motorola closed up 1 7/8 at 53 1/4. Digital Equipment gained 2 to 51 3/4 and MCI Communications advanced 1 1/8 to 29 1/4.
The drug group provided a large pocket of strength in the blue-chip market as well, as Lilly rose 1 3/4 to 75 3/4, Merck tacked on 1 1/2 at 82 1/4, Pfizer gained 1 7/8 to 79, Warner-Lambert added 2 1/8 to 66 3/4, Syntex moved up 1 7/8 to 56 3/4 and American Home Products rallied 1 1/4 to 49 1/8.
In Nasdaq trading, gains in pharmaceuticals were also prominent. Amgen rose 2 1/8 to 45 7/8, Biogen gained 1 3/8 to 21 1/4 and Alza Corp. Class A added 1 1/2 to 43.
Elsewhere, traders said integrated oil issues were not hurt nearly as much as they might have been, considering the more than $5 per barrel losses in crude-oil futures. While British Petroleum dipped 1 to 77 7/8, full-point gains were actually realized by Amerada-Hess, Sun and Tosco.
The Dow transports gained 15.54 to close at 883.70, while the utilities firmed 1.01 to 210.89.
Among broad stock indexes, the Standard & Poor's 500 was up 2.29 at 314.76, the NYSE Composite up 1.12 at 171.52, the Value Line up 0.89 at 223.16, the Amex Market Value down 1.48 at 292.23 and the Nasdaq Composite up 3.76 at 341.12.