Stocks, Bonds Edge Higher in Mild Triple-Witch Session

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The triple witching -- the nearly simultaneous expiry of stock index futures and options and individual stock options -- wasn't pretty, but it wasn't a big ugly wart on the nose of the bull market either.

With bonds firmly behind them -- the long bond was up 7/16, pushing the yield to 6.37% -- and the

Group of Seven

meeting in Hong Kong, the stock market dithered through most of the day. At the end, the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was little changed, off 5.45, or 0.1%, at 7917.27. The broader

S&P 500

rose 3.22, or 0.3%, to 950.51. The tech-heavy

Nasdaq

also turned in a winning hand, rising 10.30, or 0.6%, to 1680.30 -- a record high.

Few seem unduly ruffled by the market's recent hesitancy, and a reported flow of money into bonds at the expense of stocks. After all, the market has rallied nearly 25% in the past nine months.

Until some clear trend develops, the market will likely be trapped in range trading for awhile, says Matt Ruane, senior block trader at

Gerard Klauer Mattison

. "This is nothing to really be alarmed about."

Money is still flowing into mutual funds and interest rates are well behaved, Ruane says. The biggest threat is the upcoming earnings season. Too many negative surprises and the market will begin looking like the Olympic slalom course.

Among the more interesting developments during the day:

First Union

jumped 2 1/8, or 4.4%, to 50 1/2 as a new offering of shares was oversubscribed two-to-one.

Banco Santander

also sold some of its holdings in the U.S. bank.

Compaq

(CPQ)

jumped 4 1/16, or 5.6%, to 77 1/4 after announcing it would join hands with chipmaker

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

to develop and design networking computer technologies. INTC also rose, leaping 3/8, or 0.4%, to 95 7/16.

First Data

(FDC) - Get Report

continued to luxuriate in Thursday's upgrade by

Salomon Brothers

. The company rose 1 3/8, or 3.6%, to 39 7/8.

Shoemaker

Nike

(NKE) - Get Report

continued reeling after

Salomon Brothers

downgraded the issue to buy from strong buy. For more on the athletic goods maker, which fell 5/8, or 1.1%, to 54 1/4, see an earlier article by

Suzanne Kapner.

Razor blade maker

Gillette

(G) - Get Report

leapt 3 15/16, or 4.7%, to 88 11/16 after its board of directors authorized a 25 million-share buyback. The operation will be conducted over the next two years.

Eastman Kodak

(EK)

, bludgeoned earlier in the week when it warned volatile foreign exchange rates would erode its overseas earnings, bounced back Friday. The photographic film maker was up 2, or 3.5%, to 59 5/8. The company announced David Swift would assume the helm of its China region operations.

Software maker

Adobe

(ADBE) - Get Report

surged 4 1/16, or 8.9%, to 49 3/4 after winning a patent lawsuit against

Quantel

, a unit of

Carlton Communications

. Quantel had sued Adobe, claiming that the popular

Photoshop

software, which retouches video images, infringed on five of its patents.

NaPRo BioTherapeuics

(NPRO)

jumped 1 1/4, or 13.2%, to 10 7/8 after a

Food and Drug Administration

panel approved

Paxene

, an AIDS drug developed by

Ivax

(IVX)

. NaPro supplies Ivax with the raw materials for the drug, which is derived from yew tree needles. Ivax also rose, jumping 13/16, or 7.6%, to 11 1/2.

New members to the club debuted smartly.

Children's Place

(PLCE) - Get Report

rose 1 13/16, or 13%, to 15 3/4. The company sells children's clothes.

ProBusiness

(PRBZ)

also had a warm reception. The company climbed 4 1/2, or 40.9%, to 15 1/2.

And

International Total Services

(ITSW)

leapt 3 1/8, or 27.8%, to 14 1/2.