Updated from 2:18 p.m. EDT
See This Coming?(At 5:59 p.m. EDT) The Dow Jones Industrial Average started the day on the upswing, but get this -- the gains wouldn't hold and the index closed lower. Surprised? Don't bother answering. Another poor end to what is an endlessly painful southward slog for the measure. This time, the Dow fell 79.89 points, or 1.2%, to 6547.05. Of the 30 stocks, 14 rose. The financials, however, got a rare break, and Bank of America ( BAC) had the biggest percentage increase, climbing 19.4% to $3.75. JPMorgan Chase ( JPM), though, missed the move, and slipped 3 cents to $15.90.
Finding It Hard to Commit(At 1:53 p.m. EDT) The Dow began the week by visiting both sides of the flat line Monday, but it was doing so within a fairly tight range. With around two hours left in the session, the index had traded between 6545.14 and 6709.61. Recently, it was lower by 46 points at 6581.
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.