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DOW SOARS TO 5TH STRAIGHT RECORD AS IT HITS A NEW HIGH OF 5,541.62

SHARE DOW SOARS TO 5TH STRAIGHT RECORD AS IT HITS A NEW HIGH OF 5,541.62

Stocks ended Friday's whirlwind session barely higher but enough to push several market indexes to record levels for the fifth consecutive session and one to a sixth-straight high.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended up 2.17 points at a new high of 5,541.62. It was the fifth straight record for Wall Street's best-known indicator, its 10th in the last 11 sessions and its 12th high in the past 15 trading days.The blue-chip average rallied more than 45 points in the morning, then slid to minus-26 on computer-driven selling around mid-day. But the Dow slowly trimmed its losses through the afternoon, maintaining a pattern of rallying into the close that has prevailed all week.

The Dow average ended up 167.63 for the week.

Advancing issues led decliners by a slim margin on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was heavy at a revised 476.64 million shares as of 4 p.m., ahead of Thursday's pace.

The broad market finished mostly higher. The NYSE's composite index rose 0.29 to 349.44, the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 0.30 to 656.37, and the Nasdaq composite rose 1.43 to 1,094.60. All three indexes broke through Thursday's record highs. It was the sixth straight record for the Nasdaq composite and the fifth consecutive high for the other two indicators.

But the American Stock Exchange's market value index fell 0.65 to 564.01, failing to top Thursday's all-time high of 564.66.

Traders and analysts said the current strength in the stock market is in large part the result of record investments of cash into stock mutual funds.

The Investment Company Institute, a mutual fund trade group, said Wednesday that investors had put a record $24.5 billion more into stock mutual funds in January than they had removed.

But the market's rise has not been entirely driven by cash flows, said James Solloway, research director at Advest Research. "The fact of the matter is that when you look at the stock market in the aggregate, it is still priced reasonably well versus the level of profits out there right now and the level of interest rates."

Fourth-quarter earnings have been surprisingly robust, adds Ron Hill, a market strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., who cited earnings gains as a reason why his firm raised its 1996 target for the S&P 500 Friday to 700 from 675.

Some cyclical stocks, issues that perform well when the economy is growing, outperformed the rest of the market, in a reversal of Thursday's dominant strategy. Investors bought cyclicals on the hope that those stocks would benefit the most from any further interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve.

Auto stocks gained early in the day after Chrysler announced a treaty Thursday with dissident investor Kirk Kerkorian to improve the automaker's shareholder value. Chrysler was up as much as 25/8 points on an intraday basis but ended down 1 at 553/4.

The early strength in Chrysler boosted other auto stocks, however. Ford climbed 3/4 to 301/4, and General Motors added 5/8 to 52, both in active trading on the Big Board.

Boeing, another cyclical stock, rose 31/8 to 825/8. The Wall Street Journal reported that the aircraft maker would hire at least 7,000 new jobs by early 1997. Boeing declined to comment.

But other cyclical sectors were lower, including aluminum, steel and airlines. Alcoa dropped 5/8 to 563/8, Bethlehem Steel fell 3/8 to 151/2, and Delta Airlines retreated 1 to 717/8.