NEW YORK -- The U.S. stock market ended the session mixed for a third straight day as the NASDAQ composite cruised to record levels and blue-chip issues lagged.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed 2.71 lower, at 3305.16, led by a slump in Philip Morris Cos., International Business Machines Corp. and Merck & Co. The NASDAQ Combined Composite index soared 7.52, to a record high of 681.86, led by Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp., Novell Inc. and Apple Computer Corp.
It was a historic day for several leading U.S. companies. IBM tumbled to its lowest level in 17 years, Intel set a new closing high and Chrysler Corp. rallied to its highest level since October 1987.
"If you own technology and automobile stocks, life is wonderful," Mr. Bloch said. "But, if you own drug or biotechnology stocks or IBM, life is terrible."
Christine Callies, market analyst at Cowen & Co., observed: "The stock market isn't in sync, and that's usually a sign that the market is ready for a big fall."
Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 0.16, to 434.50, and the New York Stock Exchange Composite index declined 0.10, to 239.15. The American Stock Exchange Market Value index rose 0.30, to 397.61.
Advancing common stocks outnumbered declining issues by about 8-to-7 on the NYSE. About 291 million shares changed hands.
The five most actively traded issues on the U.S. Composite. were Philip Morris, Chrysler Corp., Intel Corp., Novell Inc. and IBM.
Philip Morris slumped $1.625, to $71.875, as the stock continues to founder on reports that sales of the company's flagship Marlboro cigarettes were declining.
The company also was being hurt by a report that taxes on cigarettes will soon increase and an EPA finding that secondhand smoke causes lung cancer.
Shares of leading drug companies, including Merck & Co., Pfizer Inc., Eli Lilly & Co., Schering-Plough and Upjohn Co., slumped amid lingering concerns that President-elect Bill Clinton will push through legislation that restricts drug price increases.
Shares of health care and drug companies were the worst performing stocks yesterday, according to Standard & Poor's Corp. Semiconductor, automobile, telecommunication, electronic and computer software stocks rose the most.
Chrysler gained $2.875, to $36. The auto manufacturer got a boost from a flurry of positive news, including a decision by Furman Selz Inc. to add the stock to the firm's "recommended" list. The rally in Chrysler's stock is tied to expectations that sales of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, new sedans and other automobiles will remain strong, analysts said.
Intel surged $7.625, to an all-time high of $98.625. Analysts at Merrill Lynch & Co., First Boston Corp. and Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette Securities made positive comments about the semiconductor manufacturer.