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.

Elsewhere, General Motors ( GM) was up 15.9% to $1.68 after sinking to a multidecade low on Friday, and General Electric ( GE) added nearly 5% to $7.41.

As was the case throughout, Merck ( MRK) was the worst stock, declining 7.7% to $20.99.

I guess it would be too much to expect a rally that can be sustained. The Dow tacked on 32.50 points in the final session last week, but I hope you weren't looking for a continuation. Remember this next time we have an up day: The Dow hasn't put together back-to-back wins since Feb. 6.

For the year, the industrials saw their losses extended to 25.4%, and thus far in March, the DJIA has given back 7.3%. That's in six trading days.

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.

Who is most responsible for the credit crisis and the recession?

Federal Reserve
Ratings agencies
Irresponsible home buyers