Stock prices bounced back to end with modest losses Friday after a massive early sell-off sparked by fears of inflation and a drop in the dollar to new lows against the Japanese yen.
Blue chips dropped more than 60 points in early trading as stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter economic growth and the dollar's fall to post-World War II lows against the yen triggered computer sell programs at the opening bell.
After fighting all day to recover from the wave of selling in the session's opening minutes, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 14.87 at 4,157.69. The blue-chip index ended the week with a gain of 19.02.
Friday's decline came after the Dow had set record highs three times this week -- Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
In the broader market, declines beat advances 1,232 to 994 on heavy volume of 353.09 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange, down from 362.96 million on Thursday.
The NYSE Composite index of all listed common stocks fell 0.79 to 271.04. The average share was down 10 cents.
The Nasdaq index ended up 0.35 point at 817.21 after tumbling more than 10 points in early dealings.
The Standard & Poors composite index of 500 stocks fell 1.51 to 500.71. The American Stock Exchange index was down 0.60 to 464.41.
The Wilshire Associates Equity Index -- the market value of NYSE, American and Nasdaq issues -- was 4,920.419, down 12.698, or 0.26 percent.
Buying by portfolio managers to shore up their books on the first quarter's last day of trading and later reports of more market-friendly economic data fed the comeback, analysts said.
Guy Truicko, equity portfolio manager at Unity Management, said the rapid rotation from sector to sector could be a sign Wall Street's record-breaking rally was in the midst of a "final blow-off."
"The market is running out of ideas," he said. "They're exploiting certain groups and then they're dropping them for dead after a few days."
Technology stocks ended mixed after taking a beating in the morning. Computer issues, which had been market leaders for months, sustained serious losses this week as analysts said they may have peaked.
First Boston downgraded four semiconductor issues to "hold" from "buy." On the Big Board, Motorola fell 5/8 to 54 5/8 , Advanced Micro Devices fell 3/8 to 33 7/8 , and LSI Logic lost 1 1/2 to 52 3/8 . Intel fell 1/2 to 84 7/8 in Nasdaq trading.
Mining stocks followed precious metals higher. On the Big Board, Barrick Gold rose 1/4 to 24 7/8 , Placer Dome added 3/8 to 24 3/8 , Homestake rose 1/4 to 18 1/2 , and Battle Mountain Gold climbed 1/2 to 11 7/8 .
Meanwhile cyclical and airline stocks gave back some of Thursday's gains. Aluminum Co. of America shed 1 3/8 to 41 1/2 , and Delta Air Lines lost 1 1/4 to 62 3/4 .
Treasury bond prices finished moderately lower.
The price of the Treasury's main 30-year bond ended down 7-32 point, or $2.19 per $1,000 in face value. Its yield, which moves in the opposite direction of price, rose to 7.43 percent from 7.41 percent late Thursday.
Prices of short-term Treasury securities dropped 3-32 point while intermediate maturities were down by between 3-16 point and 9-32 point, the Dow Jones Telerate financial information service reported.
The Lehman Brothers Daily Treasury Bond Index, reflecting price movements on bonds with maturities of a year or longer, fell 1.69 to 1,208.02.
In the tax-exempt market, the Bond Buyer index of 40 actively traded municipal bonds closed at 91 6-32, down 11-32 from late Thursday. The average yield to maturity was 6.37 percent, up from 6.34 percent.