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Dow Watch: JPMorgan Jumps, GM Ticks Up

Also, don't ever doubt the importance and influence of the U.S. consumer.

Updated from 2:04 p.m. EDT

And Tomorrow's Already Wednesday

(

At 5:35 p.m. EDT

)

Thanks to a much better than expected reading on consumer confidence, Wall Street had an upbeat start to a short week. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

rose 196.17 points, or 2.4%, to 8473.49 Tuesday as 28 of its 30 stocks advanced.

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. Report

was the best performer on a percentage basis, up 6.2% to $36.54.

American Express

(AXP) - Get American Express Company Report

gained 5% to $24.57, and

Alcoa

(AA) - Get Alcoa Corporation Report

added 4.6% to $9.27.

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TheStreet Recommends

Only

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Bank of America Corp Report

, off 0.8% at $10.98, and

Coca-Cola

(KO) - Get Coca-Cola Company Report

, down 0.2% at $47.21, fell.

The story though, was

GM

(GM) - Get General Motors Company Report

, which appears to have made some progress with the auto workers. However,

bankruptcy watch

has never been more intense than it will be in the coming days. The company needs bondholders to agree to exchange their debt for equity, and reports suggest it's not looking good for the automaker's offer.

Shares tacked on 1 cent to $1.44 on volume that was more than seven times the daily average.

We'll know more in a few hours. Stay tuned.

Every Stock's Higher

(

At 1:55 p.m. EDT

)

GM

(GM) - Get General Motors Company Report

went from being the worst performer on the

Dow

all the way to positive territory as the automaker scrambled to stay out of bankruptcy court.

Just days ahead of a government deadline to prove its viability, GM has reached an agreement that will give 17.5% of its common stock, along with warrants, preferred stock and a $2.5 billion note, to the UAW's health-care Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association,

The Wall Street Journal

reported.

Meanwhile, retiree benefits will be cut immediately, the paper said. The

Associated Press

reported that most hourly employees will get buyout offers or requests to retire early.

Better late than never? I guess we'll see, but this last-minute cost-cutting is certainly making things interesting. There's still that problem with getting the bulk of bondholders to agree to go along. Lately, GM was up 5 cents at $1.48. Earlier, it was as low as $1.12.

All 30 stocks on the Dow are now in the green, and the index is up more than 200 points.

Now That's Power

(

At 11:40 a.m. EDT

)

Don't ever doubt the importance and influence of the U.S. consumer. That's who's single-handedly responsible for the 150-point gain the

Dow

was posting at the start of the week.

Let's review a bit of what the market was facing after the long holiday weekend. Worries about North Korea's missile testing,

General Electric's

(GE) - Get General Electric Company Report

CEO out with comments talking down

growth prospects

, bleak data on

home prices

and

continuing unease

about

GM

(GM) - Get General Motors Company Report

, which could be looking at a bankruptcy filing within a week.

Not much to be happy about, and we had a sluggish start in New York. No real surprise there.

All that changed a half hour into trading, when the Conference Board said

consumer confidence

surged to its highest level in roughly eight months and trounced expectations. Remarkable, astonishing, considering the unemployment readings we've been getting lately. And stocks were off to the races.

Quite simply, this economy falls apart without consumer spending. If consumers believe that the future will be better and start shopping, we might get out of this recession, depression, downturn, slowdown, whatever you want to call it, sooner rather than later.

We shouldn't interpret this as the all-clear, but it's a step in the right direction. We'll need confirmation in the months ahead, and quite frankly if the job market doesn't improve we might not get it. However, for now, it is another sign that we have some reason to hope.

As for the Dow stocks, only three of them were lower, with the aforementioned GM the worst, down 8.4% at $1.31. A report on

CNBC

indicated that the vast majority of bondholders aren't going for the company's offer to swap their debt for an equity stake.

Coca-Cola

(KO) - Get Coca-Cola Company Report

and

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Bank of America Corp Report

edged down, the latter despite an

upgrade at FBR

.

None of the gains were particularly sizable, though several companies were advancing 3% or more, including

American Express

(AXP) - Get American Express Company Report

,

Caterpillar

(CAT) - Get Caterpillar Inc. Report

,

Home Depot

(HD) - Get Home Depot, Inc. Report

and

3M

(MMM) - Get 3M Company Report

.

Meanwhile,

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report

was little changed following reports that it could be raising more than $10 billion through a debt offering that would help it complete the planned acquisition of

Wyeth

(WYE)

. Lately, the shares were up 1 cent at $14.97.

For now, I'll wrap up by pointing you toward an

article from TSC Ratings

on why

AT&T

(T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report

might be a good buy at these levels.