NEW YORK -- Stocks were little changed yesterday, capping a tumultuous week in which the Dow Jones industrial average declined nearly 2 percent even as the Nasdaq index of smaller stocks soared to two consecutive record highs.
Steady interest rates and an easing of tensions in Russia helped keep the market stable yesterday.
Prices were mixed, as gains in oil and broadcasting stocks countered declines in telephone and retail stocks.
The Dow rose 3.36 points, to 3,543.11, led by gains in Chevron Corp., Caterpillar Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co. For the week, the Dow was down 70.14 points.
Among broader market measures, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index eased 0.11, to 457.63. The Nasdaq Combined Composite rose 2.39, to 754.65, its second consecutive record high. The old record was 752.26.
Concerns that President Clinton's health-care plan faces obstacles to passage, coupled by lingering uneasiness that the power struggle in Russia might intensify over the weekend, kept yesterday's advance in check.
"As far as the health plan goes, I think people feel there's a lot on the platter right now, with Nafta and all the other issues," said Edward Collins, executive vice president of institutional trading at Daiwa Securities America.
"We were just dead in the water," Mr. Collins said. "It's partly the holiday."
With the Jewish Yom Kippur holiday approaching, yesterday's trading was the slowest this week. Volume on the New York Stock Exchange totaled about 248 million shares, below the average this week of 266 million shares. Advancing stocks exceeded declining issues by a slight margin.
Yesterday's relative calm came at the end of a wild week in which the Dow tumbled 76.01 points Monday and Tuesday on concern about corporate earnings, rising interest rates and the political crisis in Russia.
On Wednesday and Thursday, stocks stabilized as investors sought to take advantage of the plunge earlier in the week.
David Katz, who manages about $150 million for Matrix Asset Advisors, said he used the market weakness to buy more shares of American Express Co. and Polaroid Corp.
"I don't think the sell-off created a terrific buying opportunity," Mr. Katz said. "Over the next month or two, the market's going to be driven by earnings reports."
Stocks were helped yesterday by stable interest rates. Treasury prices were steady as investors overlooked yesterday's report of a 2 percent increase in orders for durable goods in August. The 30-year Treasury bond yielded 6.05 percent, down from 6.06 percent late Thursday.
In addition, better-than-expected earnings from leading companies in the computer industry, like 3Com Corp. and Oracle Systems Corp., eased some of the skittishness about third-quarter earnings.