Updated from 2:50 p.m. EST
(At 4:57 p.m. EST)
News that President Obama is working on a plan to subsidize mortgage payments for struggling homeowners erased almost all of the Dow's losses in the final hour of trading Thursday, but the index wasn't quite able to make it into the green.
Still, after being lower by more than 200 points earlier, the late rally was impressive, and it left the Dow down just 6.77 points, or 0.1%, at 7932.76. Ten of the 30 components rose, while 20 fell.
As was the case for much of the stock market, the financials improved significantly in the last hour. Bank of America (BAC) - Get Report closed down 3.3% at $5.87, and Citigroup (C) - Get Report lost 2.2% to $3.61. Both had been substantially worse prior to the late turnaround. Coca-Cola (KO) - Get Report was the best stock throughout, rising 7.6% to $44.39.
The Dow and the other major indices were strong into the close, so maybe this momentum can carry over ahead of a three-day weekend for the U.S. market. Traders haven't been convinced that any of the past government aid plans are capable of saving the economy, but perhaps this mortgage proposal from the new administration will be the key to finally spurring some longer-term optimism.
As is always the case, the details, which we still need, will go a long way toward determining if that actually happens.
Too Much Gloom for Stocks
(At 2:20 p.m. EST)
When you've got uncertainty about and unhappiness with the government's
financial rescue plans
, headlines in
The Wall Street Journal
and more grim news on the
, it's easy to see why people might not be in much of a mood to buy stocks.
was down more than 2% with about 90 minutes left in the trading session Thursday, and there aren't really any signs out there to suggest it's going to change significantly for the better before the closing bell rings.
From the outset the index has been sluggish, and the slide in banks has worsened.
Bank of America
had the biggest percentage loss of the 30 Dow components, falling 9.6% to $5.49, and was also the most active issue.
Here's a little good news, and I mean a little -- a third member of the group has turned positive since last check,
, which edged up 4 cents to $14.42.
remained the winner of the day, climbing 6.3% to $43.88 on heavy volume.
Triple-Digit Loss for the Morning
(At 11:58 a.m. EST)
down more than 100 points
roughly two hours into the trading day, as financials were some of the worst performers, but the losses for the index had been quite a bit worse earlier in the session.
Of the 30 stocks, 28 were in the red, while
Bank of America
was the weakest stock, losing 6.3%, and
were dropping 5.5%.
was lower by 4.1%.
were also lagging, surrendering more than 4% each.
Among stocks in the news, Coke was rising 7% after its latest
, in which it topped Wall Street's profit estimates, but Alcoa slipped 1% despite saying it was improving its
reached a deal to buy an
portfolio of therapeutic drug candidates and commercial manufacturing facilities for $130 million. Shares of the drugmaker were down nearly 3%.
Elsewhere on the site, check out an article from Gavin Magor of TheStreet.com Ratings. He has an update on
, focusing on health benefits and life-insurance coverage.