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Dow Watch: Forget Citi -- You've Got AmEx

At the end of the day, the Dow had gained 109.44 points, or 1.4%, to close at 8029.62, thanks largely to the final hour.

Updated from 3:39 p.m. EDT

Don't Act Surprised


At 5:40 p.m. EDT


Here we go again. It's all about the end of the day. Accept it. Everything else is preseason, spring training, a warm-up. Call it whatever you want. The last hour is all that counts. You know it.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

didn't have a lot going on for much of the session Wednesday, so be grateful for the time between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. EDT. At the end of the day, the index had gained 109.44 points, or 1.4%, to close at 8029.62, thanks largely to the final 60 minutes.

Among the 30 stocks, only five fell. None of the losses were that bad.



was down 2.7%, and



shed 2.4%.


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nearly erased all of its loss before settling down 4 cents at $3.97.

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The winner of the day was

American Express


, up 11.9% at $20.62 after investors took a positive view of its

charge-off and delinquency data

. It also accounted for more than 17 points of the overall gain in the industrials.

General Motors


rose 6.2%, and

JPMorgan Chase


, a day before its earnings, was better by 6.1%.

That was the first increase of the week for the Dow, and it left it up 22.6% from its March 9 low and ahead by 5.5% for April. Since 2009 began, the index is 8.5% lower, but the last month-plus has improved that situation considerably.

Now plan to wake up early. JPMorgan's just a few hours away.

It's Better Isn't It?


At 3:21 p.m. EDT


The 12 banks of the

Federal Reserve System

have spoken. The nation's central bankers have collected their data from the various regions around this great land, turned it into the beige book and informed us that the falloff in the economy appears to be showing some signs of moderating.

Sadly, no boost. No pickup. Still flat. The


was tacking on a measly 11 points at 7931. What gives? It's better out there, folks.

Personally, I think this observation from

RealMoney's Rev Shark

makes a lot of sense:

"I'm very concerned that it is going to become much tougher for the market to make more upside progress from this point. We are going to need some real improvement in the economy rather than just slowing in the magnitude of the decline."

Good point. We can't just go along not getting worse forever and expect that to turn things around.

At any rate, the Dow has largely been treading water throughout the session.






remain the downside leaders, each by about 4% of late.

American Express


was pacing the advancing issues, up 7.4% to $19.80.

We have about 30 minutes left. Now's when it can get very interesting.

For Now, Up a Little


At 12:30 p.m. EDT




has had plenty of news to deal with Wednesday, though so far it's basically amounted to a standstill. The index has traded in a narrow range, 7871 to 7980, and recently it was up 45 points at 7966.

The inflation data signaled

consumer prices

overall are staying down, but foreclosures might be going up. Capacity utilization and industrial production are falling. New York manufacturing data, however, are looking a little better. The beige book is due later.

A lot going on. By the way, it's earnings season. The beginning of it.

While only eight of the 30 Dow stocks were dropping, three of those were financials.



has been

rallying lately

, though this time it was the worst percentage decliner, losing 6.5% to $3.75.

Bank of America


was decreasing 5% to $9.59, and

American Express


was off 2% at $18.06.



was another loser, surrendering 3.7% to $15.42 in the wake of its

disappointing forecast




shares were holding up pretty well, slipping just 0.3% to $50.95 despite remarks from CEO Mike Duke that the U.S. economy

might not bounce back

as soon as most of us hope.

On the plus side,

JPMorgan Chase


, a day ahead of its earnings report, was up 2.6% at $31.50.

As for other advancers,



is said to be looking to extend its distribution deal for




, and its shares were gaining 0.9% to $25.50.

Procter & Gamble


was adding 2.7% to $48.55 after

raising its dividend


Did I mention there was a lot going on? Don't expect it to get any lighter anytime soon. Ratings, recently cited for Best Stock Selection from October 2007 through February 2009 , is an independent research provider that combines fundamental and technical analysis to offer investors tremendous value in volatile times. To see how your portfolio can use this research, click here now!