The world's leading technology companies propelled the Nasdaq composite index to within a point of a new closing record, capping a quiet session that left most indicators little changed.
The Nasdaq gained 16.53 points to close at 2886.15. Its all-time high of 2887.06 was set Sept. 10.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 20.27 at 10,823.90, and the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 0.11, to 1335.53.
But declining issues outnumbered advancers by 3 to 2 on the New York Stock Exchange, and the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 1.25, to 433.20.
A wide array of technology companies pulled the Nasdaq higher. Sun Microsystems rose 5-13/16, to 94 1/2, a day after the company declared a 2-for-1 stock split. Aerial Communications, a maker of digital cellular phones, soared 6 5/8, to 26 5/8, after VoiceStream Wireless agreed to acquire it for $3 billion in stock and cash.
Apple Computer rose 2 1/8, to 79-1/16, and Microsoft rose 1 1/8, to 97-9/16.
The renewed strength in technology shares provided a rare spark in one of the quietest sessions of the year. Many Wall Street professionals were out of work today to commemorate Yom Kippur, and trading volume fell to 568.0 million shares, from 862.0 million on Friday.
The dollar's fluctuations against the Japanese yen kept the market off balance early. Stocks initially rose as the dollar continued to climb back from last week's 3 1/2-year low against the yen.
But after rising as high as 107.41 Japanese yen in European trading, the dollar's advance slowed. In late New York trading, a dollar bought 106.11 yen.
The dollar had dipped to 103.20 yen on Wednesday, its lowest level since February 1996, hampering U.S. stocks. A weaker dollar can make imports more expensive, and it can also make foreign investments more appealing, luring investors away from U.S. securities.
Analysts said investors also appeared unwilling to take major new positions in advance of the Federal Reserve's Oct. 5 meeting on interest rates.
Dole Food offered the latest evidence of investors' harsh punishment for companies that miss estimates. Dole shares fell 2 3/4, to 21 1/4, after the company said it expects to break even or record a "slight" loss for the third quarter, below analysts' predictions of earnings of 13 cents a share.