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STOCK PRICES HOLD IN CHOPPY TRADING

The stock market was holding steady in choppy trading today, with blue chips posting slight gains.

The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials was up 3.47 to 2,497.24 at noon, after rising as much as 14 points following the opening bell. The closely watched index ended Friday with an 11.18-point rise.

The financial markets were closed on Monday in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.

In the broader market, advancing stocks marginally outnumbered decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, with 644 down, 623 up and 545 unchanged.

Volume on the Big Board came to 69.51 million shares by midday, down from the 78.14 million shares that changed hands the same time Friday.

Stock prices started out strong but declined, largely on profit-taking following the three-day holiday weekend, analysts said.

"We had a good market before the holiday. People came back and saw stocks up and they decided to take profits," said Charles Jensen, a technical analyst with MKI Securities Corp.

Traders said lower interest rates in the credit markets and a stronger dollar were helping to support some stock prices today.

Among the most actively traded blue-chip stocks, Texaco was up 1 to 52; American Telephone and Telegraph was up 1/8 to 35 7/8 ; and International Business Machines was down 5/8 to 108 7/8 .

NWA was up 1 5/8 to 107 5/8 . NWA has set today as the deadline for possible bidders to submit their offers for the company.

Time was up 2 7/8 to 134 7/8 amid continued speculation that another bidder could emerge and derail a proposed merger with Warner Communications.

The NYSE's composite index of all its listed common stocks fell 0.22 to 179.09. At the American Stock Exchange, the market value index stood at 355.09, down 0.08.

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