NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks were little changed yesterday as gains in Merck & Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. were offset by mixed performances among retailers and declines in airline issues.
Barring a further drop in interest rates or a significant improvement in corporate earnings, many money managers aren't especially optimistic about the outlook for stocks.
Medaphis Corp., down $21.375 to $14.25 as almost 43 million shares changed hands, gave the latest evidence of the stock market's vulnerability. It was the sixth most active stock in Nasdaq history.
The provider of computerized billing systems for hospitals blindsided investors when it said it will have a third-quarter loss because of a problem-plagued computer integration project in Europe. Medaphis was expected to earn 28 cents a share.
In the broad market, the Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 0.23 to 662.28; the Nasdaq composite index rose 1.18 to 1,134.69; the Russell 2,000 index of small-company shares grew 0.96 to 327.68; the Wilshire 5,000 index of the biggest companies on the NYSE, American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq stock market advanced 12.47 to 6,482.40; and the American Stock Exchange market value index rose 2.19 to 552.53.
Merck climbed 62.5 cents to $69.125. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and other health groups said Merck's chicken pox vaccine should be given to all adolescents not yet exposed to the disease.
Stocks were kept in check partly by a decline in bonds. Yields on benchmark 30-year Treasury bonds rose to 6.80 percent from 6.78 percent yesterday after manufacturing and labor reports deepened concern that the economy's growth hasn't slowed enough to restrain inflation.
More than six stocks fell for every five that rose on the New York Stock Exchange. Some 325 million shares changed hands, among the slowest days this year on the New York Stock Exchange.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. rallied for a second day, climbing 75 cents to $27.125 after rising 50 cents Wednesday.
Pub Date: 8/16/96