NEW YORK (AP) _ Stock investors, refraining from any major moves before Election Day, traded gingerly Friday, giving Wall Street a mixed and lackluster performance.

No sectors stood out in a session so unremarkable that the Dow Jones industrial average traded within a narrow 126-point range and the high-tech focused Nasdaq composite index moved within an even tighter 80-point span.

``The mood of the market seems to be somewhat trendless. We're in a challenging climate in which it is tough to make money,'' said Alan Ackerman, executive vice president at Fahnestock & Co. ``Few players are putting money to work today ahead of the election on Tuesday.''

The Dow ended down 62.56 at 10,817.95, up 227.33 or 2.1 percent for the week. The Nasdaq rose 22.55 to 3,451.58, up 173.22 or 5.3 percent for the week.

The Standard & Poor's 500 was down 1.63 at 1,426.69, closing out the week with a 47.11-point or 3.4 percent gain.

Investors who are still shaken following a spate of disappointing third-quarter earnings reports also are waiting for results expected next week from technology leaders Cisco Systems and Dell before they ``fine-tune what the next step in the market will be,'' said Tom Galvin, chief equity strategist at Credit Suisse First Boston.

Blue chips got a boost from two consumer brands. Quaker Oats soared $7.44, or 9 percent, to $89.69 after rejecting a $14 billion takeover bid by PepsiCo.

Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch maker of such consumer products as Skippy peanut butter and Dove soap, gained $2.38 to $53.63 after reporting third-quarter earnings slightly ahead of expectations.

Retailing stocks, however, took another beating a day after the industry reported disappointing sales results for October. The Dow's retailing components fell, with Home Depot down $1.63 at $41.25, and Wal-Mart off $2.98 at $45.02 after lowering its holiday sales expectations Thursday.

The Dow's financial firms saw mixed trading. J.P. Morgan lost $3.44 to close at $161.50, but American Express was up $2.13 at $59.75.

Some Nasdaq issues recovered from recent losses.

Cisco, maker of networking equipment, gained $1 to $56.75. Software maker Oracle also advanced, rising 75 cents to $30.31.

Oracle fell sharply on Thursday after rumors circulated that CEO Lawrence Ellison and chief financial officer Jeffrey Henley planned to resign. The stock plunged as much as 13 percent before public denials from Ellison and Henley.

Sprint tumbled $8.13, or 22.2 percent, to $28.50, after saying it won't follow competitors AT&T and WorldCom, which are spinning off their long-distance businesses into separate companies.

Wall Street was also uneasy about mixed economic news released earlier in the day, said Barry Hyman, chief investment strategist for Weatherly Securities.

The Labor Department reported the number of new jobs created last month slowed to 137,000, easing some worries over inflation. But that news was offset by an uptick in wages, Hyman said.

``I'd call the employment numbers today a little bit of a negative picture,'' Hyman said. ``It's wonderful to see the job growth slowing. At the same time, the 0.4 percent increase in hourly earnings, greater than expected, creates a concern that wage inflation might be creeping back into the system and that productivity might be slipping.''

Declining issues outnumbered with advancers in a 13-to-11 ratio on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 987.98 million shares, below the 1.14 billion in the previous session.

The Russell 2000 index rose 0.78 to 507.75.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 0.23 percent. Germany's DAX index was up 0.56 percent, Britain's FT-SE 100 was down 0.10 percent, and France's CAC-40 fell 0.02 percent.

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