(At 4:22 p.m. EDT)
NEW YORK (
) -- This stock market is
OK, maybe that's an exaggeration. But you wouldn't know otherwise if you only paid attention to
I'll admit, Wednesday's action on the
was encouraging. There was plenty of bad news out there, including a poor five-year note auction, a disappointing durable goods orders report, and mixed earnings results. Oil dropped almost 6% to $63.25 after the Energy Department's weekly inventory report showed a build in supplies, pressuring related stocks.
were the biggest drags on the Dow, falling 2.5% and 2.2%, respectively. Additionally,
fell by 1.8% each.
Gains of 1% or more in components
Bank of America
helped mitigate the damage.
But the fact remains that the Dow has closed lower for two straight sessions, putting it in negative territory for the week. It doesn't look as though it will get any easier for the blue-chip index, with another Treasury auction scheduled for Thursday, as well as earnings reports from
and Disney on tap.
Exxon is expected to report a profit of $1.02 a share on revenue of $71.3 billion, according to Thomson Reuters. That would be down sharply from the year-ago quarter's profit of $2.27 a share. In other words, lower estimated energy prices no doubt weighed on the quarter.
Of course, the energy sector was the worst performer of Wednesday's session, following the slide in oil prices and weak earnings from
, which saw revenue in the second quarter drop by 50% from a year earlier.
Disney will post quarterly results after the closing bell Thursday. Analysts are looking for a profit of 51 cents on revenue of $8.83 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.
Two losing sessions in a row isn't something for bulls to freak out over, but it's not something for
to be wildly cheering, either. As I said in an earlier update, market analysts have said momentum remains to the upside, and that sellers don't have much conviction. A string of losing sessions could easily change that sentiment.
(At 1:39 p.m. EDT)
was bruised but not completely battered by the results of the Treasury's latest auction, falling close to its lowest levels of the session but still remaining above the 9000 mark.
Despite its resiliency, even the Dow's relatively mild reaction to the $39 billion auction's results can't mask how bad they really are. For one, the five-year note auction saw a bid-to-cover ratio of only 1.92, below the 2009 average of 2.22.
Additionally, the indirect bidder participation rate was only 36.7%, indicating that foreign investors don't have the same appetite they've had in the past for U.S. Treasury notes. The average indirect bidder rate for 2009 is 41.9%, and the last offering saw the rate climb to 62.8%.
The results shouldn't be a complete surprise, though, as the record number of Treasury auctions this week were bound to disappoint. Monday saw three separate auctions, including the $6 billion auction of 20-year TIPS, the $32 billion auction of three-month bills, and the $31 billion auction of six-month bills. Tuesday saw $27 billion of one-year bills and $42 billion of two-year notes auctioned.
Bulls are hoping we won't see another disappointing number Thursday, when $28 billion of seven-year notes will be auctioned, but it isn't looking so good right now. The seven-year note was lately falling 9/32 in price, pushing the yield to 3.33%. It also doesn't help that seven-year notes don't typically get as much interest as two- or five-year notes.
The Dow had retraced some of its losses earlier, before the results of the Treasury auction were released. The index was lately down 67 points to 9029, only 15 points away from its lowest point of the session. Industrial stocks continued to weigh on the Dow after the weaker-than-expected report on durable goods orders in June, with
among the biggest laggards.
On the other hand,
Bank of America
were among only a few stocks in positive territory, up 1% or more each.
(At 9:45 a.m. EDT)
Finally, the long awkward dance between
is over. It's a shame, though, it's not doing more for the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
The blue-chip average was lately down 32 points to 9064, after the two tech giants confirmed they were
entering an Internet search partnership. The Dow, however, was still above Tuesday's intraday low of 9007.47. There hasn't been much panic on the bulls' part, evident in the fact that selling on the major U.S. averages seems to be without much conviction.
The good news is that the last few sessions have seen sharp late-day rallies. Even though the Dow finished lower Tuesday, the first drop in the past four sessions and only the fifth daily drop in July, the index recovered from a 101-point loss to end lower by only 11.79 points.
Microsoft, though, was one of the Dow's better performers, rising 0.8% to $23.66 after announcing the 10-year agreement with Yahoo! Microsoft said Yahoo! will use its Bing search-engine technology on its own sites under the pact.
Unfortunately, there aren't very many other components in the green.
were all lower by 1% or more, outweighing Microsoft's gains.
As I said before, there hasn't been much conviction in the selling, and a handful of market analysts have told me they believe that momentum continues to be to the upside. I suppose we'll have to wait once again until the "most important hour of the trading day" (
words, not mine) to see where the Dow will finally end.
Reported by Robert Holmes in New York.