NEW YORK, DEC. 3 -- The Dow Jones industrial average closed up nearly 6 points today after two rallies stalled amid new worries over recession and war.

An initial wave of buying, following through on Friday's 40-point Dow advance, gave way after the National Association of Purchasing Management reported that its index of economic activity fell to 41.3 percent last month, the lowest reading since November 1982.

New confusion over the Persian Gulf helped keep prices in check as well, traders said.

NCR shares increased nearly 25 points in frenzied trading following AT&T's weekend buyout offer of $90 a share, prompting some investors to step up their buying of computer issues. But there was no avalanche of takeover speculation across a broad range of issues. This, too, disappointed the bulls.

"The real excitement was pretty much limited to NCR and AT&T," said chief trader Thomas Gallagher at Oppenheimer. "But compared to what we've been seeing, trading in the broader market was fairly heavy. For many weeks, on Monday the market has done absolutely nothing, but today was definitely different."

Among the computer stocks, Digital Equipment rose 2 3/4 to close at 54 1/2, Compaq closed up 1 3/8 at 54 1/2, Cray added 1 7/8 to 31 3/8, Apple tacked on 1 3/8 to close at 38 1/8 and Conner Peripherals ended the day at 27 3/4, up 1 3/4. But IBM languished with a 1/4 loss at 113 3/8 and AT&T partner Sun Microsystems slipped 5/8 to close at 20 1/4.

At the close, the Dow stood at 2565.59, up 5.94, while advancing issues outpaced declining ones on the Big Board by an almost 3-to-2 ratio on moderately active volume of 177 million shares.

Among Dow components, Boeing trimmed a full-point gain to a 3/4 gain at 45, McDonald's rallied 1 1/4 to 29 3/8 after easing somewhat last week on talk of imminent food-price cuts, United Technologies gained 2 to 46 5/8, and Texaco -- down over a point in afternoon trading -- closed off 7/8 at 58 5/8.

But AMR Corp. tacked on 1 1/4 to 48 1/2, partly on news that Continental has agreed -- when given approval by a bankruptcy judge and the Department of Transportation -- to sell its Seattle/Tacoma-to-Tokyo route to American Airlines for $150 million. Delta also gained 1 1/2, closing at 58 1/2, while UAL closed at 99 3/8, up 1 1/2.

There was active interest among hot retail firms. Limited added 1 1/2 to 17 1/4, Home Depot rose 2 to 37 3/4, while Wal Mart was up 3/4 to close at 30 7/8.

UNC inched ahead 1/8, closing at 3, after a favorable write-up in this week's Barron's. The Dow transports rose 19.04 to 872.04, while the utilities eased 0.32 to 211.77.

Among broad stock indexes, the Standard & Poor's 500 was up 1.88 at 324.10, outperforming the Dow. The NYSE Composite gained 1.01 to 177.07, the Value Line added 1.57 to 235.39, the Amex Market Value rose 0.81 to 302.60 and the Nasdaq Composite moved up 2.26 to 361.32.