Oil shares lifted by gasoline price surge But semiconductor firms retreat in mixed trading; Nasdaq sets record


NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks were mixed yesterday, as oil shares rallied on expectations that higher gasoline prices will fuel improved earnings and semiconductor shares retreated.

The Nasdaq composite index set its eighth straight record, buoyed by a forecast from Dell Computer Corp. of strong corporate demand for personal computers.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 5.42 to 5,573.41. The widely watched average has gained less than seven points, or 0.16 percent, in a week as investors wait for a clear indication of the economy's direction.

Texaco Inc., Exxon Corp. and Chevron Corp. led the Dow's advance yesterday. Exxon gained $1.50, to $85.875; Chevron rose 62.5 cents, to $58.50; and Texaco climbed $1.50, to $86.875, as the price of crude oil rose as much as 18 cents a barrel, to $22.50. Six months ago, crude was selling for $16.50 a barrel. Gasoline prices have risen 20 percent in a month.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.70, to 654.16. The Nasdaq, filled with semiconductor, software and computer stocks, rose 1.31, to 1,188.20, bringing its gain since April 17 to 67 points, or 6.01 percent.

Among broad market indexes, the Russell 2,000 index of small capitalization stocks rose 0.39, to 348.22; the Wilshire 5,000 index, comprising stocks on the New York, American and Nasdaq stock exchanges, rose 6.63, to 6,514.36; and the S&P; 400 Midcap Index rose 0.08, to 237.34. All three set records. The Amex market value index fell 0.82, to 592.75.

The most active stocks in U.S. composite trading were: Hechinger Co.'s A shares, up $1.1875, to $4.75, in trading of 6.5 million shares; Comparator Systems Corp., up 3.125 cents, to 6.25 cents, in trading of 6.3 million shares; Imp Inc., down 50 cents, to $13.875, in trading of 5.3 million shares; Ford Motor Co., up 62.5 cents, to $35.875, in trading of 5.1 million shares; and the American depositary receipts of Telebras, the Brazilian telecommunications company, up 12.5 cents, to $53.75, in trading of 4.8 million shares.

But trading was slow. About 343 million shares changed hands, well below the 428 million NYSE average during the last three months. Declining stocks outnumbered advancers by 1,244 to 1,081.

A weaker dollar helped dissipate concerns that drug companies' overseas profits will be diminished when brought home.

The dollar's slide benefited drug stocks like Merck & Co., which lost 9 percent this month as the dollar strengthened against the Japanese yen and the German mark. The dollar fell yesterday to a two-month low against the yen.

Merck & Co. gained 50 cents, to $60.50. Shares of Pfizer Inc. also gained, rising $1, to $68, as analyst Joseph Riccardo of Bear, Stearns & Co. rated the stock "attractive."

Paper and forest-product stocks surged after Georgia-Pacific Corp. last week raised pulp prices $60 a ton. It was the industry's first attempt at a price increase since prices started collapsing in autumn, according to Canadian brokerage Levesque Beaubien Geoffrion.

Georgia-Pacific Corp. rallied $2.50, to $78.25; Weyerhaeuser Co. jumped $1.75, to $49.625; Willa-mette Industries rose $1.375, to $62.50; Union Camp Corp. advanced $1, to $54.875; Mead Corp. gained $1.125, to $56.375; and Louisiana-Pacific Corp., raised to "attractive" from "neutral" at Bear, Stearns & Co., climbed 62.5 cents, to $24.75.

Semiconductor stocks registered their biggest one-day decline since March 25 after a market research firm forecast growth in global demand for computer chips would slow to less than 8 percent this year.

Novellus Systems Inc. slumped $4.25, to $54.25. Texas Instruments Inc., which agreed to raise its stake in a Taiwan memory-chip joint venture, sank $1.375, to $56.25; Micron Technology Inc. dropped $1.875, to $36.50; Intel Corp. fell $1.125, to $68.125; and LSI Logic Corp. declined 87.5 cents, to $36.

Pub Date: 4/30/96

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