The stock market managed a midweek surge after breaking a four-session losing streak but failed to maintain its momentum and closed just below where it started.
The market suffered only its second decline in nine weeks. Analysts said the victory glow from the Persian Gulf war had faded, leaving some grim economic reminders.The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 3.96 Friday to end the week at 2948.27. For the week, the Dow declined 6.93, or about 0.2 percent.
Broader market indexes also declined for the week. Standard & Poor's 500-stock index fell 1.36 to end the week at 373.59, and the New York Stock Exchange composite index lost 0.87 to end the week at 204.08.
Declines led advances 1,218-717 among the 2,177 NYSE issues traded this week. Weekly Big Board volume totaled 978,259,430, compared with 1, 109,482,140 shares the prior week and with 773,233,070 a year ago.
The Dow opened with two losing sessions, following two down sessions from the prior week. The market halted its losing streak Wednesday but fell back Thursday and Friday.
The market drifted listlessly Monday until a late surge of profit taking sent prices lower. Analysts had expected a decline as the end of the first quarter approached.
Profit taking sent the market to its fourth straight loss Tuesday. Experts said the trouble started when the Dow failed to hold above the 2940 level.
Sidney Dorr, vice president of institutional trading at Charles Schwab & Co. in San Francisco, was sanguine about the decline, calling it normal behavior after the rally of January and February, when the Dow gained 450 points.
A powerful buying surge Wednesday broke the losing streak and sent the Dow ahead 32.68. Traders said program trading, bargain hunting and a rally in the bond market propelled the market.
Stock prices gyrated during Thursday's session and once again threatened the 3,000 mark, but late profit taking sent the market spinning to another loss.
On Friday, the "triple-witching hour" expirations of stock-index futures, stock options and stock-index options created volatility. After some initial losses, the market recovered and closed with a broad loss in heavy trading.
Donald J. Wagner, vice president of Dain Bosworth Inc. in Omaha, said the market's overall situation "looks toppy. The market had a tremendous recovery, but that was due to overselling."
He added, "It wasn't a bear or a bull market, just overreaction."