The stock market steadied Tuesday, helping the Dow Jones industrial average halt its worst slide in nearly a decade, but nervous investors continued to shy away from shares in smaller, riskier companies.
With investors seeking safety in big-name issues, the Dow took back some of the 300 points it lost over the two previous sessions and closed with a gain of 27.57 at 6,611.05.
Broader stock indicators hovered near Monday’s closing levels, ending the session mixed.
“A little bit of consolidation following a big drop, a little bit of bargain hunting, and a little bit of relief among a nervous bunch of people who thought the market was going to freefall,” said Larry Rice, chief investment officer at Josephthal, Lyon & Ross.
The Nasdaq market, laden with technology shares and smaller, more speculative companies, again suffered the most damage. For the most part, however, stocks traced the moves of a meandering bond market.
“Predictably, you have a rally in the Dow, which leaves everything else behind. (Blue-chips) seem safer, the obvious vehicle of preference for professional traders,” said Rice.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 7-to-6 margin in Tuesday’s dealings on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume totaled 507.04 million shares as of 4 p.m., down from 555.78 million in the previous session.
Some of the stocks that moved substantially or traded heavily Tuesday:
Brooke Group, down 3/8 at 4-3/8.
The company’s Liggett Group tobacco unit, which last month settled health-liability lawsuits filed by 22 states, warned it may lack the money to pay its debts.
Catalina Marketing, down 9-1/4 at 29-3/4.
The provider of retail checkout promotions warned that its sales growth will slow in the next fiscal year.
CompuServe, up 3-1/4 at 46-1/2.
The online network’s stock rose for the second straight day in the wake of a market rumor that America Online may offer to purchase its competitor.
Informix, down 5-7/32 at 9-29/32.
The maker of database-management software cautioned that it will post a first-quarter loss because of declining revenue.
Quickturn Design Systems, down 7-3/4 at 8-1/4.
The maker of integrated circuit design products expects to post disappointing first-quarter results.
Heartstream, down 2-1/2 at 8-1/8.
The Seattle-based maker of heart defibrillators expects to report disappointing first-quarter results.
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