Dow Watch: Citigroup Rises, GM Drops

Updated from 2:37 p.m. EDT

Almost Doesn't Count

( At 5:09 p.m. EDT)

I'm not panicking. If you need to, go ahead. Fine. I'll just ask you to remember that stocks don't move in a straight line, although yes, for months it has seemed like they could only go lower.

So the rally came to an end late Monday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tried to make it five up days in a row, but it couldn't quite get it done.

Buyers had been in charge until around 2 p.m. EDT, and the index hit an intraday high of 7392.91. After that it was all downhill. By the close the Dow had given back 7.01 points to settle at 7216.97.

Wouldn't have been terrible to see another win, but again, there's every chance this is only a minor setback. The other possibility is that we've been hoodwinked, and anybody who became bullish in the last five days is about to pay a heavy price for thinking the good times were here again.

Ultimately, it's not a bad idea to remember that one day does not make a trend. That said, don't rush to look at the Dow chart. Clifflike in its ugliness. Again, don't look.

Meanwhile, 16 of the 30 industrials managed to climb. Citigroup ( C) had the best gain, adding 31% to $2.33. Bank of America ( BAC) pared its increase to 7.3% to finish at $6.18.

General Motors ( GM) led the losers in regular trading with a 7.4% pullback to $2.52.

A story worth watching Tuesday will be Alcoa ( AA), one of the better names to open the week, with a 6.8% improvement to $6.12. However, after the close it slumped 11.1% to $5.44 on word it would lower its quarterly dividend to 3 cents a share from 17 cents. The aluminum company also said it was planning other cost-cutting measures and seeking to raise more than $1 billion through a stock and debt sale.

Don't give up hope yet. There's still plenty of time for that down the road.

Keeping the Advance Intact

( At 2:10 p.m. EDT)

With about two hours left in the first session of the week, the Dow remains up more than 100 points, and the continuation of its recent winning streak is appearing increasingly likely.

Maybe we're going to look back on this in the not-too-distant future and say we can't believe we fell for it, but what if it is real? Some folks who have been around this market through good times and bad and over the course of many years think it might be.

At around 2 p.m. EDT, the best gainers were Citigroup ( C), up 41.6% at $2.52, and Bank of America ( BAC), higher by 18.8% at $6.84. BofA hasn't seen that level since early February, and in the past week the stock has more than doubled.

Those two were also the most actively traded issues on the Dow, and volume in Citi has already surpassed 1 billion shares.

Only six components of the index were falling, the worst being General Motors ( GM), down 7%. Both drug companies, Pfizer ( PFE) and Merck ( MRK), were sluggish.

So far, so good. If you believe, that is.

The Rally That Won't End

( At 11:15 a.m. EDT)

Now all the market does is go up. Did we ever have a problem here, or was that my imagination?

The Dow started the new week with gains as more than two-thirds of its components were higher Monday, led by a nearly 24% surge in Citigroup ( C) and an 11% increase in Bank of America ( BAC).

Recently, the index was at its best level of the session, up 101 points at 7325. Of the 30 stocks, eight were weaker, led by a 6.3% decline in General Motors ( GM) to $2.55. For the most part, the other losses were fairly minor, though Intel ( INTC) was down 2% at $14.40.

Back on the winning side, Alcoa ( AA) was adding 6.5% to $6.10, and JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) was up 4.7% at $24.86. General Electric ( GE) was ahead by 3.7% at $9.98, and earlier, GE went as high at $10.15, its first time above $10 since Feb. 19.

So far the Dow appears to be headed for a fifth straight rise. Coming off a week in which the industrials advanced 9%, that's not a bad way to get things started.

Without question though, we all have to be on guard. This could prove to be only a brief rally in what has been a punishing bear market for stocks. The global banks still have plenty of problems. Unemployment is soaring. AIG's ( AIG) inability to get out of its own way bolsters the case for more regulation. Bulls are everywhere, and talk of a bottom is rampant.

Still, it's hard not to be hopeful, even if deep down we know how dangerous that can be.

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