NEW YORK, NOV. 28 -- The Dow Jones industrial average eased 8 points today in moderate and largely featureless trading.
Strategist Michael Metz at Oppenheimer said, "It was a random-walk session in a random-walk week. It should be said, however, that the market has had excuses to go down, but has not." He cited continuing dismal economic statistics and the likelihood of a vote by the U.N. Security Council Thursday to approve the use of military force against Iraq.
"The market is looking for something to do, and come December, I think it's going to latch onto some sizable gains in the U.S. dollar," Metz said. "There's going to be a quiet creep back into the U.S. stock market by foreigners, although it's likely to be very surreptitious."
Technician Carl Futia, who runs Cyclic Forecast from Ironia, N.J., agreed that a rebounding dollar, perhaps more than anything else, is likely to breathe new life into stocks.
At the close, the Dow stood at 2535.15, down 8.66, but advances led declines on the Big Board by a ratio of about 4 to 3 on moderate volume of 145 million shares.
Among industry groups, there was scattered buying. Insurance stocks continued a rebound, with CNA up 1 1/8 at 60, while Marsh & McLennan gained 1 5/8 to 74 5/8. Dreyfus Corp. gained 1 to 26 3/8 among financial-service stocks.
Topping the most active list was C&S/Sovran, in dividend-related trading. C&S shares added 1/4, closing at 17 1/8, before going ex-dividend.
The Dow transports eased 7.95 to 831.18, led down by airline stocks. USAir shed 7/8 closing at 13 1/4, AMR lost 1 1/2 before closing at 43 3/4 and Delta fell 2 3/4 to close at 53 3/8..
The Dow utilities eked a 0.13 gain to 209.26 from the session.
Among broad stock indexes, secondary measures once again outperformed their blue-chip counterparts. The Standard & Poor's 500 was down 0.15 at 317.95, the New York Stock Exchange Composite up 0.04 at 173.91, the Value Line up 0.83 at 231.12, the Amex Market Value up 1.97 at 298.97, and the Nasdaq Composite up 1.01 at 355.06.