Updated from 2:37 p.m. EDT

If the bulls were grateful that the Dow Jones Industrial Average didn't falter and give back Tuesday's rally yesterday, they should be tickled pink today.

In all, the Dow climbed 9.5% over the previous three trading sessions, the longest winning streak since one that ended after Jan. 28 and the biggest since November.

What makes today's 240-point, 3.5% surge particularly remarkable is that Dow futures were down roughly 100 points when compared to fair value at 7 a.m. EDT this morning.

Bank of America ( BAC), General Electric ( GE) and General Motors ( GM) were the big winners of the day following a flurry of news.

Consumer-related names also pieced together a strong session, with McDonald's ( MCD), Procter & Gamble ( PG), Home Depot ( HD) and Wal-Mart ( WMT) finishing with gains.

In addition, American Express ( AXP) shares overcame a bearish research note from a Citi analyst to post a 10.2% advance for the day.

United Technologies ( UTX) also overcame a shaky start to the session after CFO Greg Hayes said the company would be more aggressive with mergers and acquisitions this year.

Microsoft ( MSFT) was the only laggard on the Dow, losing 0.6% to finish at $17.01. The stock was pressured by a Morgan Stanley analyst's prediction that PC sales would fall by 11% in 2009 as cheaper, smaller netbooks gain in popularity.

(At 2:37 p.m. EDT)

Apparently I spoke too soon. The Dow has now easily topped 7100 and keeps pushing higher.

The Dow's three-day rally is now good for 8.6%, as the bulls have seized control. Market observers still debate whether this is a bear market rally or the turning point, but the bulls will certainly pocket this rally with a smile.

Bank of America ( BAC), General Electric ( GE) and General Motors ( GM) are still the leaders on the Dow, all trading more than 10% higher.

Pfizer ( PFE) is also a big gainer thanks to the positive trial news on its cancer drug Sutent. Rival Merck ( MRK) is also rallying alongside Pfizer.

Microsoft ( MSFT) is now the only laggard on the Dow as Boeing ( BA) has turned positive, at least for the moment.

(At 1:25 p.m. EDT)

Dow 7100? Maybe not today, but we're close. The U.S. index is now 150 points higher, good for an advance of 2%.

If the Dow can hold onto its gains, it would be the first three-day winning streak since the end of January and the highest close since Feb. 26. There are still nearly 3 hours left in trading, so anything can happen.

Bank of America ( BAC) is now the third Dow component to sport a double-digit percentage gain, lately up 11%. BofA received a strong boost after CEO Ken Lewis told a business group in Boston that the bank should earn "close to $50 billion in pre-tax, pre-provision earnings" in 2009 and that his doesn't expect his bank to need more government capital.

General Electric ( GE) and General Motors ( GM) continue to be the strongest performers of the day. In addition, American Express ( AXP) turned positive.

In fact, many Dow members have reversed ground and are now in the black. Only two components are trading lower: Microsoft ( MSFT) and Boeing ( BA).

(At 11:36 a.m. EDT)

It's not a convincing move above 7,000 for the Dow, but bulls will take it, for sure.

The Dow jumped more than 100 points to a high of 7,047 but has once again retreated closer to the 7,000 mark.

General Electric ( GE) is still among the biggest gainers, jumping 11% after the downgrade by Standard & Poor's.

General Motors ( GM) joined in on the rally, surging 13% after the automaker's chief financial officer said the company will not need the $2 billion loan installment for March that it requested from the U.S. government last month.

Winners were outpacing losers 23 to 7 at midsession, with American Express ( AXP) and Alcoa ( AA) still trading lower.

(At 10:34 a.m. EDT)

Hopes for a three-day rally on the Dow Jones Industrial Average are still alive now that the index has turned positive, lately trading 55 points higher.

Still, the Dow seems to be facing some resistance at the 7,000 threshold. Regaining that level, while still 50% below the average's all-time highs, may help bolster investor sentiment.

Pfizer ( PFE) and General Electric ( GE) continue to lead advancers on the Dow. Both JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) and Bank of America ( BAC) were also trading higher.

Meanwhile, American Express ( AXP) was among the biggest decliners after a Citi analyst published a research report that said credit losses will likely force the company to take sizable reserves in the coming quarters and potentially cut its dividend. Shares were lately down 2.6%.

Also among the Dow's losers were Alcoa ( AA) and Microsoft ( MSFT), both losing 2.4%.

(At 9:36 a.m. EDT)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average's two-day winning streak, the first in more than a month, looks to be in jeopardy as the index opened points lower Thursday.

Earlier, Dow futures bounced from their worst levels of the morning with help from Pfizer ( PFE) and General Electric ( GE), both of which were trading higher in the premarket session.

Pfizer said that a Phase 3 clinical trial of cancer drug Sutent has been stopped early after the drug showed a "significant benefit" in patients with advanced pancreatic islet cell tumors. Pfizer said that all patients in the trial will have the option to continue taking Sutent or be switched from placebo to Sutent.

Shares of Pfizer were set to open 3.3% higher at $13.21.

Meanwhile, GE shares traded higher even after Standard & Poor's downgraded GE's and GE Capital's long-term ratings from AAA to AA+, with a "stable" outlook. In response, GE said it does not anticipate any significant operational or funding impacts from this change.

GE shares were up 4.2% in early trading to $8.85.

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