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Dow gains 5.8 points in slow trading


NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks closed mixed yesterday in sluggish trading as trepidation about the outcome of this week's Federal Reserve policy meeting and Friday's release of the June employment report kept traders from making any big bets.

"Nobody's going to do anything ahead of that," said Barry Berman, head trader at Robert W. Baird & Co. Trading also ebbed because many people are still on vacation after Monday's Fourth of July holiday.

About 195 million shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the fewest since the Friday before the May 30 Memorial Day holiday, when 186 million shares traded on the NYSE.

Gains in Caterpillar Inc., Boeing Co. and Texaco Inc. lifted the Dow Jones industrial average, while a slump in Wellfleet Communications Inc. depressed the Nasdaq composite index.

The Dow industrials closed up 5.83, at 3,652.48, after opening down as much as 9.71 points, then rebounding to a gain of as much as 20.08 points.

Leading the rise, Caterpillar rose $1.125, to $101.75, amid expectations of robust second-quarter earnings, traders said.

Boeing climbed 87.5 cents, to $47.25, after the airplane maker said it delivered 67 commercial jet transports in the second quarter.

Texaco, rebounding from a 52-week low set Friday, closed up 75 cents, at $60.875, on plans for a restructuring that will cut 2,500 jobs and reduce overhead by about $300 million. Mobil Corp. announced a similar restructuring last week.

International oil stocks were among the biggest advancers in the Standard & Poor's 500 index, which closed up 0.17, at 446.37.

Oil stocks also benefited from a 3-day rally in the price of Texas oil for delivery in August, which has climbed as much as 82 cents, or 4.4 percent, since last Wednesday, to $19.65 a barrel, said Paul Ting, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co.

Mobil gained $1.375, to $82.625; Chevron Corp. added 50 cents, to $42.875; and Royal Dutch Petroleum jumped $2.125, to $107.125.

The Nasdaq composite index declined 3.26, to 703.59, dragged down by Wellfleet. The computer networking maker's stock dropped $5.1875, to $20.0625, after Wellfleet agreed to buy SynOptics Communications Inc. for stock valued at about $1 billion. SynOptics slid $1.125, to $14.625.

"Historically, technology mergers have not demonstrated marked success," said Paul Merenbloom, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Inc. "The merger is likely to weaken the gross profit margins enjoyed by Wellfleet" because computer port/hubs are a commodity business.

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