NEW YORK, NOV. 21 -- The Dow Jones industrial average rose 9 points today after a session of typically lackluster preholiday trading. New York Stock Exchange volume contracted by more than 13 percent from Tuesday's moderate pace.
"The day was a little disappointing in that we spent most of it in the loss column," said strategist Michael Metz at Oppenheimer and Co.
At the close, the Dow stood at 2539.36, up 9.16, although declines narrowly edged advances on the Big Board on moderate but contracting volume of 140 million shares, compared with 161 million on Tuesday.
A slight rise in crude-oil futures -- January contracts settled up 72 cents per barrel at $29.63 -- helped inhibit bullish sentiment in the morning stock market, although bonds remained buoyant all day, underpinned by news that U.S. initial state unemployment claims jumped 39,000 in the week ended Nov. 10, compared with a 6,000 rise during the week ended Nov. 3. The 30-year Treasury bond was up 13/16 as stocks closed.
Among active stocks on the Big Board, Boeing trimmed some of its hefty loss on Tuesday, when the stock tumbled on a brokerage downgrade. The stock rose 1 5/8 to 44 1/4 after tumbling 4 5/8 on Tuesday.
But Federal National Mortgage Association labored under persistent selling pressures amid resurgent fears that crumbling real-estate markets will cause further, upward adjustments in the number of nonperforming loans at U.S. financial institutions. Fannie Mae slipped 1 to 30 5/8 after trading as low as 29 5/8.
Traders tied the new malaise in the financial issues to renewed fears that the quality of U.S. real estate credit continues to diminish, making new adjustment for institutional loan-loss reserves more likely between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Among prominent financial stocks in early afternoon trading, BankAmerica, Bankers Trust, Security Pacific and Wells Fargo all posted full-point losses. But by the close only Wells Fargo held a conspicuous loss, down 1 1/4 at 52.
Among federal loan-guarantee agencies other than Fannie Mae, Student Loan Marketing Association lost 5/8 to 40 3/8, and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. lost 3/8 to 37 3/8.
In insurance, Marsh and McLennan closed down only 3/4 at 73 but traded as low as 71 1/2, down 2 1/4, during the session. Aetna fell 3/4 to 36.
Among the computer stocks, for example, Digital Equipment dropped 2 3/8 to 49 3/8, while Cray slipped 1 to 26 7/8 and Stratus Computer dipped 1 1/4 to 21.
The Dow transports eased 3.15 to close at 849.85, while the utilities gained 1.63 to 208.69.
Broad stock indexes finished mixed. The Standard & Poor's 500 was up 0.72 at 316.03, the NYSE Composite up 0.25 at 172.73, the Value Line down 0.08 at 228.14, the Amex Market Value down 0.43 at 295.58 and the Nasdaq Composite up 0.48 at 348.77.