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DOW BREAKS LOSING STREAK, GAINS 14.54

Stocks turned in a mixed performance in quiet trading Friday, with the Dow Jones industrials halting a four-day losing streak and returning above 6,000 while broad-market indexes retreated.

The Dow gained 14.54 to 6,007.02, but that's still down 87.21 points for the week.

Despite the Dow's gain Friday, traders were not ready to proclaim a turnaround.

"Investors are taking a stand at the 6,000 mark and there's a normal adjustment to the sell-off of recent sessions," said Jim Solloway, director of research at Argus Research.

Gainers edged losers 1,188-1,178 on moderate volume of 364.98 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange. But the average share lost 5 cents.

The Nasdaq composite index fell 4.40 points to close at 1,222.60.

The Wilshire Associates Equity Index -- the market value of NYSE, American and Nasdaq issues -- was 6,834.311, down 9.723 or 0.14 percent.

Investors got conflicting economic statistics to ponder.

The Commerce Department said orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket durable goods shot up 4.6 percent in September, the steepest jump in nearly four years, and a sign of economic strength.

But the National Association of Realtors said September resales of existing homes fell 2.9 percent, challenging the notion that the economy is heating up too fast.

More than 9 points of the Dow's 14-point gain was based on Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing which rose 3 1/8 to 74 3/8 . 3M reported third-quarter earnings of 95 cents a share, up from 82 cents a year ago. Its results were heartening to traders who had sold shares earlier in the week of companies that just met or came below earnings expectations.

Oil company shares added an additional 13 points to the Dow, as heating-oil futures prices settled up 12.3 cents to 71.72 cents a gallon. Texaco rose 2 1/2 to 103 1/4 ; Exxon rose 1 1/4 to 88 1/2 .

Investors took profits in the railroad stocks after Norfolk Southern Corp., which is battling for control of Conrail Inc., asked a federal court to block Conrail's proposed merger with CSX Corp. Conrail fell 1/4 to 93 3/8 , Norfolk Southern was down 1 to 91 1/2 , but CSX ended up 1/8 at 44 1/8 .

Some drug stocks were weaker after recent strength. Bristol Myers Squibb lost 2 3/4 to 105 3/4 , Schering-Plough was off 2 1/4 to 64 1/4 , and Eli Lilly fell 2 to 69 3/4 .

Aetna rose 3 to 63 1/8 after defying uncertainty elsewhere in the health care insurance industry by meeting analysts' expectations for third-quarter earnings. Its results included the newly acquired U.S. Healthcare.

In bond trading, the Treasury's benchmark 30-year bond rose 7-16 point, or $4.38 per $1,000 face value. The yield fell to 6.81 percent from 6.85 percent late Wednesday.

Short-term Treasury securities rose 3-32 point, and intermediate Treasury securities rose 1/8 point to 1/4 point, according to Dow Jones Telerate Inc.

In the tax-exempt market, the Bond Buyer index of 40 actively traded municipal bonds closed at 115 17-32, up 3-32 point from Thursday. The average yield to maturity was 5.91 percent, down from 5.92 percent on Thursday.

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