Stocks barely moved Thursday, edging lower as investors awaited today’s inflation report and interest rates flirted with another seven-month high in the bond market.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 23.79 to 6,540.05, never straying more than 30 points in either direction from Wednesday’s close.
Most broad-market indicators posted slight losses, pressured by the bond market, where the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond - a benchmark for borrowing costs - briefly crept toward its highest level since September.
Bellwether technology shares pulled back for the second straight day after a five-session rally.
After rebounding modestly for a few days from the sharp downturn of the past month, the stock market has been treading water for two sessions as investors await today’s reading on wholesale price levels and an impending flood of first-quarter earnings reports.
“In front of (today’s producer price index), the market has basically gotten itself to where it feels comfortable being,” said Charles White, portfolio manager at Avatar Associates.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 6-to-5 margin on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume totaled just 421.80 million shares as of 4 p.m., down from 451.49 million in the previous session.
Some of the stocks that moved substantially or traded heavily Thursday:
Sears, Roebuck, down 3-7/8 at 47.
Under threat of court sanctions and a class-action lawsuit, the nation’s second-largest retailer announced plans to repay customers who had filed for bankruptcy court protection from creditors, but were pressured to continue paying off their Sears credit card bills.
Kmart, up 1/8 at 12-5/8.
The discount retailer’s sales rose 12.7 percent in March at stores open at least a year.
General Electric, down 3/8 at 101-1/2.
The conglomerate’s first-quarter profits rose 11 percent compared with a year ago, meeting analyst expectations.
Primark, down 5-1/4 at 18-3/4.
The financial-information provider said its first-quarter operating earnings will be below expectations because of weak foreign currencies and operating problems at two of its units.
Microcom, up 5-7/16 at 15-15/16.
Compaq Computer of Houston agreed to acquire the maker of networking equipment for $280 million, or $16.25 a share.
Informix, down 3/4 at 7-5/16.
Merrill Lynch downgraded its intermediate term and long-term ratings on the database software company, the Dow Jones News Service reported, citing a source at the investment firm.