Dow Watch: GE's Dividend in Danger?

The outstanding stock of the day was Bank of America, which led the financials higher.
Publish date:

Updated from 2:38 p.m. EST

Interesting Comments From Immelt

(At 3:06 p.m. EST)

If you're a


(GE) - Get Report

shareholder, the text below might give you pause. The following statement was taken directly from a press release the company issued Friday and attributed to CEO Jeff Immelt:

"The Board and I believe that it is in the best interests of the Company's shareowners to continue to pay an attractive dividend. The Board and I will continue to evaluate the Company's dividend level for the second half of 2009 in light of the growing uncertainty in the economy, including U.S. government actions, rising unemployment and the recent announcements by the rating agencies. Our fundamental priorities will remain keeping the Company safe and secure in the current environment and investing in attractive growth opportunities."

GE did declare its next regular quarterly dividend of 31 cents a share, payable in April, but the above remarks do sound a bit like that commitment to paying

$1.24 a share

this year might not be quite as firm as it was just a couple of weeks ago.

The Problem's Been Solved

(At 2:10 p.m. EST)

Every stock in the


was positive with about two hours left in the trading session Friday, led by the financials. Plenty of talk about this bank move over on


, including from Jim Cramer, who wrote about what

the shorts are fearing


Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report



(C) - Get Report

rendered a negative call from Fitch Ratings completely irrelevant. The agency

downgraded the banks' individual ratings

and preferred shares to junk status, but that did nothing to dampen upward momentum. BofA was surging 32%, and Citi was up almost 13%.

Still, BofA's stock, at $6 and change, remains at less than half the level where it started 2009. At any rate, BofA's increase was happening in heavy trading, as more than 500 million shares changed hands.



(CVX) - Get Report

was gaining 2.2% after it confirmed a potentially

huge new find

at an ultra-deepwater prospect in the Gulf of Mexico, and


(GE) - Get Report

was bouncing back from Thursday's

multiyear low

, adding 2.5% to $11.12.

Better Days Ahead? Let's Hope So

(At 1:03 p.m. EST)

We lost nearly

600,000 jobs

last month, but nothing to worry about. That's backward-looking data, remember? Americans are winners, and we'll bounce back. The great news is the government is about to get us out of this mess. The worst of it is over.

That or something like it seems to be the thinking. I hope it's right.

The job numbers of the past few months are more frightening than anything I've seen as a working professional. While it's often said that members of the media prefer the bad news to the good, and in many cases that criticism is accurate, I'm not going to be upset when and if the bulk of the headlines take a turn for the better. Life's a little easier when you're not wondering if you'll be able to pay the electric bill in two months.



certainly was having

an upbeat session Friday

as hopes about the potential effects of an economic-stimulus package and a separate plan to

aid the banks

lifted the index and overcame concerns about another grim employment report. In the early afternoon, 29 of the 30 components were in the green, and the Dow overall was up 180 points, or 2.2%, at 8243.

The outstanding stock of the day was

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

, as the assault on the shares reversed course and traders sent it soaring 22.5% to $5.93. Among the other financials,

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

was up 5.7%,


(C) - Get Report

was advancing 8.5%, and

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

was better by 7.6%.


(BA) - Get Report

was the lone decliner, but

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report



(MCD) - Get Report





Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Report

were laggards, relatively speaking, registering gains of under 1%.

At this point, we're all aware that very few industries are immune to this recession, but for today, we seem to be focusing more on the potential for recovery. Maybe we really do just need to believe.