Worries about what Friday's inflation report will show held back Wall Street today, but technology investors regained enough of their confidence to break the fall of the Nasdaq Stock Market.
The Nasdaq composite index, which had dropped 114 points since the end of September, bounced back with a 10-point gain today, closing at 2,047.22.
The Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard and Poor's 500 index wound up doing nothing after an up-and-down day in which they swung between profits and losses too often to count.
At the closing bell, the Dow was down a third of a point at 10,216.59 and the S&P was up close to a point at 1,176.84.
Today's trading was quieted by the Yum Kipper holiday and by hesitation about making any big move in advance of Friday's release of the consumer price index for September -- the government's main gauge of inflation.
Wall Street's concerns about inflation were underscored by today's foreign trade report, which showed the biggest increase in import prices in 15 years.
Based on what the trade report revealed, there were predictions that the CPI too will show a scary increase in the cost of living.
The big factor in both economic statistics is the jump in oil prices triggered by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The storms not only boosted prices of heating oil, diesel fuel, gasoline and natural gas, but also raised imports of liquid fuels, delivering a double hit to the trade deficit.
The storms' impact on the economy also was evident today in the weekly report on new applications for unemployment benefits. It showed another 75,000 people filed for unemployment last week after they lost their jobs because of the storms.