Stocks mixed, Dow off 28 points Gillette and P&G; droop; autos post gains, as does the Nasdaq


NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks were mixed yesterday, as investors balked at paying high premiums for steady-earning consumer products makers such as Procter & Gamble Co. and Gillette Co. Companies that do better in an expanding economy gained.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 28.34 to 7,859.57, in the 14th consecutive session in which it swung more than 100 points.

The Nasdaq composite index, packed with computer stocks, rose 2.88 to 1,601.57. The S&P; 500 fell 3.39 to 920.16.

Among broad market indexes, the Russell 2,000 index of small capitalization stocks rose 2.36 to 418.09; the Wilshire 5,000 index, comprising stocks on the New York, American and Nasdaq stock exchanges, lost 32.48 to 8,802.69; the American Stock Exchange composite index advanced 3.02 to 646.85; and the S&P; 400 mid-cap index added 1.47 to 313.21.

Procter & Gamble, off $2.25 to $136.25, led the Dow's decline. P&G; is off 11 percent from its all-time high of $153.50 July 24.

Gillette fell $1.4375 to $85.25.

General Motors rose $1.375 to $66.1875, after it was cited in the Wall Street Journal as one of the stock picks of FXC Investors Corp. President Francis Curzio. Curzio was featured prominently as someone who predicted the crash of 1987. GM was also reiterated on the "recommended list" by analyst James M. Irwin at Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Among other automakers -- which sell more cars as the economy grows -- Ford Motor Co. gained $1.1875 to $44.125 and Chrysler Corp. rose 62.5 cents to $35.75.

Four stocks rose for every three that declined, in the quietest session since July 3. NYSE trading totaled 389 million shares, well below the three-month daily average of 523 million shares.

Many investors and traders are on vacation, so individual trades can have an unusually pronounced effect on the market. "I wouldn't read too much into the noise," said Robert Fetch, a Lord, Abbett & Co. money manager who oversees $200 million. "There are not a lot of participants in the market. And, with less liquidity -- fewer buyers and sellers -- there's often more volatility."

Stocks have been volatile since reaching records Aug. 6. Starting that day, the Dow industrial average has swung at least 100 points during every session.

On Friday, the average recovered 170 points in the last hour of trading to end with a 6-point loss, after having been down as much as 177 points. Yesterday, the average rose 55.97 and fell 54.59.

"I think the environment is still favorable," said John Niedenberger, a money manager with Advanced Investment Management in Pittsburgh, which oversees about $3.5 billion. "Inflation is still low, and, until that changes, even with these big .. swings, it's hard to see a major decline."

Several companies agreed to be acquired at sizable premiums to their Friday closing prices.

Bergen Brunswig Corp. jumped $12.0625 to $42 after Cardinal Health Inc. agreed to buy it for $2.9 billion in stock and assumed debt. At Cardinal Health's closing price yesterday, the bid values Bergen shares at $50.81 each, a 70 percent premium to Bergen's close Friday. Cardinal Health rose $3.25 to $65.5625 yesterday.

Mosinee Paper Corp. soared $5.375 to $30.50 after Wausau Paper Mills Co. said it will acquire the specialty paper maker for $29.05 a share.

PerSeptive Biosystems gained $1.8125 to $12.4375 after Perkin-Elmer Corp. said it will buy PerSeptive for about $360 million in stock, expanding its share of the market for analytical machines used in developing drugs. Perkin-Elmer rose 62.5 cents to $78.6875.

Philip Morris Cos. gained 62.5 cents to $44.9375 after the U.S. tobacco industry settled a lawsuit with the state of Florida by agreeing to pay $11.3 billion over five years.

Woolworth Corp. lost 68.75 to $24, after Forbes quoted retail analyst Bernard Sosnick predicting that the shares could fall to $18 by year-end.

Pub Date: 8/26/97

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