As quarter ends, stocks close mixed Dow's late drop triggers 'uptick' rule

NEW YORK — NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks were mixed yesterday on the last day of trading in the first quarter.

Shares of computer companies gained on expectations that their earnings will rise the fastest this year. Oil shares retreated.


The Dow Jones industrial average, which has only one computer stock, fell 43.71 to 5,587.14, losing about 35 points in the last half-hour. Computer-guided "sell" orders sparked the retreat and the Dow's drop of more than 50 points at 3: 55 p.m. triggered the New York Stock Exchange's "uptick" rule.

For the week, the Dow industrials lost 49.5 points. Still, the 30-stock average rose about 470 points, or 9.2 percent, for the quarter -- its best performance since last year's second quarter. The late drop prevented the Dow from registering its best quarterly gain since a 10.6 percent leap in early 1991.


Leading the Dow industrials lower yesterday were shares of oil companies, which have been among this week's best performers. Exxon Corp. slid $2.25, to $81.50, after reaching a record high of $86 Tuesday. Texaco Inc. dropped $1.125, to $85.75, and Chevron Corp. gave up $1.25, to $56.125.

Boeing, a Dow component, fell $1.75, to $86.625, after making a presentation to investors. Byron Callan of Merrill Lynch & Co. told clients that the aerospace company remains optimistic about its growth prospects, though it didn't suggest anything that "would encourage an even more aggressive set of near-term positive expectations."

The Standard & Poor's 500 index also suffered a late drop, ending down 3.44 at 645.50. For the week, the index lost 5.12 points, or 0.08 percent. The index rose 4.8 percent for the quarter, coming in below the 5.3 percent gain last quarter.

Among broad market indexes, the Russell 2,000 index of small capitalization stocks rose 1.95 to a record 330.77; the Wilshire 5,000 index, comprising stocks on the New York, American and Nasdaq stock exchanges, fell 13.39 to 6,365.89; the American Stock Exchange market value index rose 5.23 to an all-time high of 571.38; and the S&P; 400 Midcap index rose 0.9 to 230.30.

Yesterday's most active stocks in U.S. composite trading were WorldCom Inc., PFF Bancorp Inc., Cheyenne Software Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Informix Corp.

Some 1,288 shares rose and 1,057 dropped on the New York Stock Exchange, where 413.5 million shares changed hands. The three-month daily average volume is 420 million shares.

The Nasdaq composite index bucked the trend of major market gauges, rising 6.54, to 1,101.38. Microsoft Corp. rose 87.5 cents, to $103.125 and Intel Corp. gained 50 cents, to $56.875.

Pub Date: 3/30/96