Updated from 2:18 p.m. EDT
While a big merger involving one of its stocks didn't do much to inspire buyers, there were a few bright spots for the Dow. Losers and winners were fairly even, with 16 stocks on the downside and 14 rising. Financials were uniformly in the green, led by a 16.8% gain in Bank of America ( BAC). JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) was up 3.5%, and American Express ( AXP) rose 5%. Citigroup ( C) was tacking on a penny to $1.04. General Electric ( GE) and General Motors ( GM), both punished in recent days, were among the best performers. GE was up 6.2% to $7.50, while GM was adding 14.5% to $1.66.
Merck ( MRK), however, was in the worst shape, falling 8.9% to $20.72 -- basically 1995 levels -- after announcing plans to buy fellow drugmaker Schering-Plough ( SGP) for around $41 billion. That was the second major acquisition for the Dow's pharmaceutical components this year, following Pfizer's ( PFE) megadeal for Wyeth ( WYE). Also weak were Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ), down 4.2%, and Verizon ( VZ), off 3.8%. Thus far, BofA and GE have been the most actively traded, each seeing about 190 million shares change hands. Close behind was Citi, with around 180 million shares swapped.