Stocks were narrowly mixed in quiet trading today as many investors appeared unwilling to take major new positions in advance of the Federal Reserve's meeting on interest rates.
At 3 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average was down 10.76 at 10,792.87.
Broader stock indicators were mixed. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 1.91 at 1,333.51, and the Nasdaq composite index gained 11.20 at 2,880.82.
As the dollar continued to edge back from last week's 3 1/2 -year low against Japan's yen, many analysts expected stocks to rise, extending Friday's gains.
In European trading today, the dollar rose to 107.84 Japanese yen from 106.87 yen late Friday. The dollar had dipped to 103.20 yen Wednesday, its lowest level since February 1996, hampering U.S. stocks. A weaker dollar can make imports more expensive, and it can also make foreign investments more appealing, luring investors away from U.S. securities.
But by late morning, the dollar's advance had slowed. In New York, the dollar was quoted at 106.86 yen.
The market is also being hampered by concerns that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates for the third time this year when its Open Market Committee meets Oct. 5. The Fed raised rates twice this summer in an effort to keep inflation from escalating too sharply, and with no major inflationary gauges due out before the central bank's next meeting, some analysts fear stocks will remain stuck in a narrow range.
Today, General Electric rose 1 5/8 to 121 5/8 . Merrill Lynch analyst Jeanne Terrile reinstated the stock as a Merrill "Focus One" stock, praising the company's Internet strategy. Terrile said in a report, "The environment around GE keeps getting better."
Sun Microsystems rose 2 1 5/1 6 to 91 5/8 . The company declared a 2-for-1 stock split late Friday.
Ford rose 1/1 6 to 50 and Microsoft fell 1 1/1 6 to 95 3/8 on reports the companies will collaborate on a joint venture enabling the automaker to build cars according to orders taken online.
Phillips Petroleum Co., the seventh-largest U.S. oil company, rose 2 1/8 to 55 7/8 after a report that it's negotiating a chemical joint venture with Chevron and may sell its natural-gas processing business to the rival oil company as well. Chevron fell 3/4 to 92 1/4 .
Sun Microsystems, the No. 4 maker of computer servers, gained 3 to 91 1 1/1 6 after announcing a 2-for-1 stock split for the second time this year. Sun's shares have more than tripled in the past 12 months.
Hewlett-Packard Co., the No. 2 computer company, rose 2 1 3/1 6 to 103 5/8 after it unveiled a low-cost server computer for online businesses, hoping to compete better with Sun Microsystems Inc. and other rivals.
H-P also said it formed a partnership with Finland's Nokia Oyj, the world's largest cell-phone maker, that lets the new machine, called the 9000 L-Class, send e-mail and other information to mobile phones.
Aerial Communications Inc. rose 5 3/1 6 to 25 1/8 after Voicestream Wireless Corp. agreed to buy the regional cellular-telephone service company for $2.96 billion. Voicestream, a Western U.S. wireless phone service provider, will exchange 0.455 of its shares, or about $25.50, for each Aerial share. Aerial shareholders can choose to receive $18 cash a share instead of stock. Voicestream fell 1 3/1 6 to 56 1 5/1 6.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 3-to-2 margin on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 175.56 million shares at late morning, well behind Friday's pace.
Many Wall Street professionals were out of work today to commemorate Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.
The Russell 2000 index was down 0.68 at 433.77.