* Until about 3:30 p.m. Eastern time Firday, it looked...

Market Notes

November 17, 1991

* Until about 3:30 p.m. Eastern time Firday, it looked like just another week of lousy economic news accompanied by assorted fumbling in Washington over what to do about the economy. Within a half hour, the picture grew ominously darker as the stock market took an unexpected nose-dive.

A drop of more than 120 points in the Dow Jones industrial average has a way of bringing matters to a head.

Declining issues outpaced advancing ones during Friday's plunge by a 5-1 ratio, with volume active at 236 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange. The average share was off $1.20. It was the largest drop in the Dow since Oct. 13, 1989, when the index fell 190.58 points.

* The NASDAQ over-the-counter, which had three record-high closes earlier in the week, slid 4.24 percent Friday, falling 23.55 points to close at 531.29.

* The three-month T-bill discount rate dropped Friday to 4.57 percent from 4.63 percent Thursday. This was its lowest since December 1976, when the monthly average was 4.36 percent. The 30-year benchmark Treasury bond, passed over by the rush into short-term instruments, fell slightly, leaving its yield unchanged at 7.82 percent.

* The dollar closed Friday at 1.6190 German marks, down from Thursday's 1,6300 marks, and at 129.35 Japanese yen, down from 129.60 yen the day before.

* Oil prices rose Friday on news that Russia was suspending oil export licenses, but confusion over the effect of the decree tempered gains.

Crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose 27 cents to close at $22.79 a barrel for December delivery.

December heating oil rose 1.78 cents to 67.48 cents a gallon. For the week it was off 2.09 cents. Unleaded gasoline was up 0.83 cents, to 64.02 cents a gallon, leaving it with a loss of 0.87 cents for the week.

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