NEW YORK, JAN. 23 -- Wall Street stocks rose moderately today, boosted by hopes for lower interest rates but restrained by reports of more Iraqi attacks on Israel.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 15.84 points at 2619.06. Volume on the New York Stock Exchange was a brisk 169.4 million shares. Gaining issues outnumbered losers by a ratio of almost 2 to 1.
News of air raid sirens in Israel diverted investors' attention from prospects that the Federal Reserve Board could act soon to cut interest rates again. But all-clear alerts and reports that Scud missiles may have been intercepted helped stocks recover.
"The market is still paying close attention to the Middle East," said John McElroy of 1838 Investment Advisers.
Despite trading jitters, some analysts said investors retained an upbeat outlook after Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan indicated that the key federal funds rate may need to be lowered to combat tight credit. Greenspan told a Senate committee that a reduction in the rate -- the amount banks charge one another for overnight loans -- may come sooner rather than later.
"With the recession, I don't think inflation is going to be a threat," McElroy said. "I think that will give the Fed the freedom to keep pushing down rates."
Nonetheless, analysts were cautious about the nation's economic woes and the problems plaguing certain industries. They also noted that the Persian Gulf War could get worse before it improves, adding volatility to share prices. "Everybody settled into the realization this war is going to go on for a while," said Peter Hagerman, chief executive officer at Hallmark Capital Management. "But they ought to pay attention to more than war if they're managing portfolios."
He noted that banking woes, the sharp slowdown in consumer spending and a host of other negative domestic problems make it a difficult time to justify heavy investment in equities.
Earnings reports were a key driving force for some of the most-actively traded stocks. Minnesota Mining & Minerals tumbled 4 1/4 to 80 3/4 on disappointing fourth-quarter earnings. Software Publishing plummeted 6 to 19 after the company reported lower-than-expected first-quarter profits.
The NYSE Composite index of all listed common stocks rose 0.96 to 180.16. The Standard & Poor's composite index of 500 stocks rose 1.90 to 330.21. The American Stock Exchange index rose 0.48 to 304.24. The Nasdaq over-the-counter index was up 4.88 to 383.91.