NEW YORK, JAN. 28 -- Blue-chip stocks were dragged lower by a few key issues today, but most shares rose, ignoring reports of fresh Iraqi missile attacks in the Middle East.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 4.95 points to 2654.46, but gainers led losers by almost a 2-to-1 ratio on New York Stock Exchange volume of 141.3 million shares.
Analysts blamed steep falls in some major companies for the decline in the blue-chip index, but they said the broader market fared well.
"We saw some big stocks like Boeing and Procter & Gamble and McDonald's come down," said George Pirrone, senior vice president at Dreyfus Corp. "But it's actually pretty positive when you look at breadth."
Boeing, Procter & Gamble and McDonald's -- all components of the Dow index -- fell after reporting higher earnings. Boeing lost 2 1/4 to 46 7/8, Procter fell 2 1/2 to 77 1/2 and McDonald's fell 5/8 to 27 3/4.
"I think the market is very much in gear whether the Dow is down or sideways," said Alan Newman, a technical analyst at HD Brous. "Most stocks are in demand."
Reports on the Persian Gulf War had a limited impact on stocks, which retreated modestly on reports of more Scud missile attacks. Iraq fired Scuds at Saudi Arabia and Israel, but both incidents caused little damage.
Investors are growing used to the reports of Iraqi attacks, traders said, particularly in oil futures trading. Oil prices eased today as traders shrugged off the latest missile attacks and the apparent shutting off of the massive oil spill in the Persian Gulf.
Crude oil for March delivery lost 39 cents a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange to close at $20.96 a barrel.
"The market shook off air-raid sirens and Scud missile attacks. It's basically becoming immune to the war," said Tom Bentz, a trader with United Energy Inc.
Traders also took profits in heating oil and gasoline contracts. "A little bit of weakness also happens to be coinciding with the warm weather in the U.S.," one trader said.
Unleaded gasoline for February delivery lost 0.54 cents to end at 62.13 cents a gallon, while February heating oil closed down 1.09 cents at 68.28 cents a gallon.
On the stock market, technology issues were strong. IBM soared to a new 52-week high of 125 before closing at 124 1/4, up 1 5/8. Digital Equipment gained 2 to 67 1/2 and Apple Computer rose 1 to 54 1/2.
Microsoft jumped 2 3/4 to 92 1/4. Goldman Sachs repeated a "buy" rating on it, advising investors to buy the stock on weakness ahead of a Tuesday briefing.
Autodesk rose 1 1/2 to 41 3/4. Morgan Stanley reiterated a buy rating after the computer company's shares fell sharply Friday on a disappointing fourth-quarter profit projection.
Becton Dickinson fell 3 5/8 to 68 3/8. The firm said its second-quarter earnings and sales are growing at 8 percent, vs. Wall Street estimates of 15 percent.
Humana gained 1 5/8 to 40 5/8. Wertheim Schroder added the company to its list of recommended stocks.
The NYSE composite index of all listed common stocks rose 0.09 to 183.47. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 0.04 to 336.03, the American Stock Exchange index rose 1.29 to 309.84 and the Nasdaq over-the-counter index was up 2.52 to 396.80.