Dow loses 32 points after wide swings Bond market continues to set nervous tone; Exxon decline hurts oil stocks; Wall Street

THE BALTIMORE SUN

NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks, alternately buffeted and bolstered by the bond market, were mixed yesterday as a decline by Exxon Corp. hurt oil shares.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 32.52 to 7,928.32, after rising 79 points and falling 81 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 4.51 to 922.02, led by Exxon, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 7.16 to 1,583.40, led by Applied Materials Corp.

Among broad market indexes, the Russell 2,000 index of small capitalization stocks rose 0.22 to 411.64; the Wilshire 5,000 index, comprising stocks on the New York, American and Nasdaq stock exchanges, fell 31.13 to 8,784.77; the American Stock Exchange composite index lost 2.17 to 641.06; and the S&P; 400 midcap index added 0.17 to 310.49.

Stocks and bonds initially surged after reports on wholesale prices and retail sales suggested the economy continues to grow without inflation. Later, stocks tumbled, then partially recovered.

At its lowest point yesterday, the Dow was down 380 points, or 4.6 percent, from its record close of 8,259.31 a week ago.

Micron Technology Inc., the most active issue in U.S. markets, fell $7.375 to $42.75 after Merrill Lynch & Co. analyst Thomas Kurlak downgraded the semiconductor company to near-term "neutral" from near-term "accumulate."

Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. shares plunged $1.3125 to $32.75 -- almost 4 percent -- in trading of more than 8.8 million yesterday after the Justice Department confirmed that federal prosecutor Kathleen Haley has named the Nashville, Tenn.-based company itself -- in addition to individual employees -- as a target of its intensifying health-care fraud investigation.

Among the gainers, Applied Materials soared $9.125 to $99.375 after the world's largest manufacturer of chip-making equipment reported quarterly profit before a gain and a charge that exceeded expectations. The company earned 77 cents, 11 cents better than forecasts.

Fifteen stocks fell for every 13 that rose in trading of 593.6 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange, greater than the daily volume over the past three months of 516 million.

Oil shares fell after Exxon Corp. said it shut down part of its 411,000-barrel-a-day refinery in Baytown, Texas. Exxon fell $1.75 to $60.75; Mobil Corp. slid $1.9375 to $74.75; and Chevron Corp. fell $1.8125 to $79.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and J. C. Penney Co. rose a day after the retailers reported higher quarterly earnings. Wal-Mart rose $1 to $36.9375 and J. C. Penney inched up 25 cents to $60.1875.

General Electric Co. rose 18.75 cents to $66.75 after Goldman, Sachs & Co. was reinstated to the securities firm's recommended list by analyst Martin A. Sankey.

Drug stocks fell. Merck & Co. was off $1 to $92.625; Eli Lilly & Co. lost $2.50 to $104.50; and Schering-Plough Corp. dropped $1 to $47.625.

Bonds recovered as the economic reports allayed concern the Federal Reserve would soon raise interest rates. The yield on the benchmark 30-year bond, which moves opposite its price, fell 5 basis points to 6.62 percent.

Citicorp was up 68.75 cents to $135; BankAmerica Corp. rose $1 to $68.375; and Chase Manhattan Corp. gained $2.25 to $111.25.

Fleet Financial Group Inc. rose 56.25 cents to $65.8125 on news that the Boston bank holding company is close to an agreement to buy Columbia Management Co. for $500 million to $600 million in cash.

CompUSA Inc. gained $1.375 to $29.375 after the computer retailer reported net income of 24 cents a share, 4 cents ahead of estimates. Versatility fell 1 to 8 after the software company said it sees first-quarter earnings per share of 6 cents, a penny below analysts' estimates.

Seagram Co. fell 56.25 to $34.4375 after reporting quarterly earnings of 13 cents a share, matching expectations.

Pub Date: 8/14/97

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