NEW YORK, NOV. 9 -- The Dow Jones industrial average rallied 44 points today as the prospect of lower interest rates brought reluctant buyers back into the market and forced short sellers to cover their position.

The advance was relatively broad-based but volume was only moderate, disappointing bulls who hoped for the beginning of a dynamic rally. Programmed trading was heavy.

Support for stocks was provided throughout the day by the bond market, where the bellwether long Treasury bond ended the day up 29/32. Bonds were buoyed by news that the inflation rate, excepting food and oil prices, was near zero in October. Even more important, said traders, was the relative ease by which the Treasury completed a record week of borrowing, and the downward direction of yields.

At the close, the Dow stood at 2488.61, up 44.80, while advances outpaced declines on the Big Board by a ratio of nearly 3 to 1 on moderate volume of 145 million shares. On the week, the Dow ended pretty much where it began, down 2.23 points.

Among Dow stocks, IBM was clearly the rally leader, up 2 3/4 at 110 1/4. General Electric gained 2 to 53 3/4 and Merck added 2 to 80 1/2.

Full-point advances were realized by Chevron, Du Pont, General Motors, International Paper, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Texaco, Westinghouse and Exxon.

Industry groups in which advances were particularly broad included money-center banks, computers, telecommunications, chemicals, integrated petroleum, construction machinery, household products, foods, beverages and drugs.

Among active issues, Citicorp rose 1/8 to 12 1/4, BankAmerica gained 1 1/4 to 22 1/4, signaling that bank stocks may have begun a rebound after a broad sell-off over the past month.

NCR added 7/8 to close at 54 3/4, extending Thursday's 5 7/8 advance on talk of a computer-business merger with AT&T.

Disney lost 1 1/4, closing at 92 3/8, after release of what analysts described as disappointing third-quarter earnings.

The Dow transports gained 5.74 to close at 833.40, while the utilities rose 1.20 to 210.33.

Among broad stock indexes, the Standard & Poor's 500 was up 6.13 at 313.74, the NYSE Composite rose 3.03 to 171.17, the Value Line increased 2.68 to 223.20, the Amex Market Value gained 1.96 to 291.03 and the Nasdaq Composite increased 5.58 to 341.95.