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Market strategy now: aim for quality

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Moving into the 14th month of its rally, the stock market is undergoing a structural shift in emphasis from its high-growth, high-profit days to steadier appreciation.

At least that's what market analysts are saying. With concern over the nation's money supply and interest rates abating, these analysts are cautiously optimistic about a continuation of the rally well into 1984. At present, the Dow Jones industrial average, near its all-time high, has been alternately sliding and climbing. Last week, this average closed at 1,233.13, down 22.46 points.

Some of the larger brokerage firms have been noting that the market downturns are brief and serve as opportunities to buy quality securities at lower prices.

Citicorp economist Peter Crawford, looking at the US economy, sees declining interest rates, increasing inflation, and decreasing unemployment lasting into 1984. Mr. Crawford is concerned, however, that in late 1985 and '86 there could be a recession because of a need to tame inflation once again. He therefore counsels ''prudent hedge strategies in managing both portfolios and financial assets and portfolios of brick and mortar.''

That emphasis on quality in stocks is echoed by other economists and analysts.

The best performance in the next few years will be in the high-grade stocks of the large workhorse companies, which can ''come through with consistent gains in earnings in what we expect to be a climate of steady economic gains and moderate inflation,''says Anna Merjos, Merrill Lynch securities research division vice-president. These companies typically hold lead positions in their markets, are well managed, and lately have concentrated on increasing productivity and paring costs.

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