The stock market slumbered through another day of trendless trading Friday, ending Wall Street's most indecisive week in more than a year.
The Dow Jones industrial average ended the week up 6 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index was off a point and a half for the week and the Nasdaq Stock Market composite index slipped 13 points.
In today's trading the Dow gained 39 points, closing at 10,416.41, the S&P was up 3 to 1,135.21 and the Nasdaq Composite ticked up three points to 1,986.73.
Friday's action -- such as it was -- was driven by the concerns of quadruple witching day, a phenomenon that occurs four times a year when four different kinds of stock options and futures contracts expire. Sometimes the unwinding of those contracts creates a stormy market, but more often it's like today -- cautious moves by big traders who hope to avoid any last minute moves in the value of their futures and options positions.
Traders are also hunkering down in advance of the Federal Reserve Board meeting coming up June 29 and 30, when Alan Greenspan and Co. will make a decision on interest rates.
Even though this is an election year -- when the Fed tries to avoid moves that might have be seen as politically motivated -- Wall Street is expecting rates to rise. If the June meeting doesn't do it, the next one probably will, traders believe.
Since higher rates are the consensus forecast, the mystical hand of the market allegedly has already factored that into stock prices, some market watchers contend. But there is still enough uncertainty involved that traders have started playing their cards close to the vest even though Greenspan Day is still seven trading sessions away.
Also coming up by the end of the month are advance reports on second quarter corporate profits. If previews of those reports start leaking out next week, Wall Street may find some motivation besides The Fed.