Dow Watch: BofA, GM Can't Save the Day

Bank of America and General Motors were the best performers on the Dow Wednesday.
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Updated from 2:12 p.m. EST

Couldn't Quite Hold On

(At 5:50 p.m. EST)

Almost made it, but it wasn't to be. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

took a late, brief positive turn Wednesday, but the index pulled back in the final minutes and closed lower by 80.05 points, or 1.1%, at 7270.89.

When the closing bell rang, 21 of the 30 stocks were lower, with

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

and

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

the weakest names, down more than 4% apiece.

On the upside,

GM

(GM) - Get Report

, a day ahead of its quarterly results and meeting with the government, had the best showing, adding 14.9% to $2.55.

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

also ended higher, up 9.1% at $5.16.

The day started on a decidedly down note, and it appeared the session could be a long one for the bulls, but buying interest late mitigated the losses. When the index went into the green in the final hour of trading, it seemed the Dow was going to go out with its second straight win. However, sellers took over in the final minutes and ended the rally.

The decline was the fourth in five days for the Dow, and it sent its loss for the month to 9.1%. So far in 2009, the index is down 17.2%. The range for the session was 7156.68 to 7404.94.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but one stock worth watching will be GM, which is scheduled to report its numbers before the opening bell and sit down with the Obama administration's task force that's charged with salvaging the auto sector later in the day.

Everyone knows the trouble GM has been having, but the last couple of days have been very good ones for the automaker's stock. These beaten-down shares ended Friday at $1.77, and they were unchanged Monday. With its latest close, it's up 44% in the last two trading sessions. I'll be interested to see whether those gains can continue. Is $3 next?

Banks Make a Comeback

(At 1:52 p.m. EST)

The

Dow

was still in the red with about two hours left in the session, but the index was well above its worst level of the day. Recently, it was lower by 64 points at 7287.

Only seven stocks were to the upside, with

GM

(GM) - Get Report

the big winner, gaining 15.3% to $2.56. What's going on there? Check out this article on what could, stressing could,

be in store

for the Detroit-based carmaker.

Intel

(INTC) - Get Report

was gaining 2.7% to $13.07, but the other advancers were up less than 1% each. Now for the good news -- one of those on the rise was

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

, which earlier in the day had been one of the worst performers. Lately it was up 0.9% to $4.77.

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Meanwhile,

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

recovered from its double-digit setback to trade down just 2.3% at $2.54.

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

was the weakest name, surrendering 6.7% to $12.71,while

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Report

and

Boeing

(BA) - Get Report

were dropping more than 5%.

Hey, we keep gathering momentum and we're going to threaten to get through the flat line.

Here We Go Again

(At 10:14 a.m. EST)

Not the way you want to see the

Dow

start a session. About 45 minutes into Wednesday's trading, the industrials were down 150 points, or 2%, at 7201.

Only five of the 30 stocks were higher, led by a 9% gain at

GM

(GM) - Get Report

to $2.42.

Hewlett-Packard

(HPQ) - Get Report

and

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

were better by around 2% each. Otherwise, Tuesday's rally was only a memory.

Unfortunately, after a two-day reprieve, sellers were back to hammering

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

and

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

, which were the worst percentage decliners, falling 8% and 13.5%, respectively.

For a couple of days, it looked like we might have some clarity on the banking system. Now we're back to

more questions

. Maybe the stress tests getting underway will give us

some answers

.

On a related note, where is Tim Geithner these days? He is the Treasury Secretary after all. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing a daily briefing on where things stand. We're only facing the biggest financial crisis the vast majority of us have ever seen. A little more communication might remove some of the guesswork.