( At 11:31 a.m. EDT) The Dow was only slightly lower two hours into the session Thursday, but nearly two-thirds of its components were in the red. Recently, the index was down 37 points at 7449. Merck ( MRK) and Pfizer ( PFE), which might part ways with some of its animal-health unit in order to complete the planned Wyeth ( WYE) acquisition, had the biggest declines of the 18 laggards, falling more than 4% each.
Citigroup ( C), meanwhile, was one of 12 winners, up 1.3% at $3.12 in the wake of news the bank is looking at a reverse split. Despite the modest boost in the stock, one could make the argument that it isn't the best way to shore up confidence or to treat shareholders. Also on the upside was General Motors ( GM), adding 12.5% to $2.97 following a report that a proposal could be unveiled shortly that deals with restructuring the automaker and struggling competitor Chrysler. General Electric ( GE) was another gainer, climbing 3.3% to $10.66, after saying its GE Capital finance unit should turn a profit in the first quarter and for the full year. Now we haven't heard this in a while, have we? Microsoft ( MSFT) was up 11 cents, or 0.7%, at $17.07 on word it, yes, brace yourself, might still be interested in some kind of tie-up with Yahoo! ( YHOO). This story is seriously going to contend for the title of Longest Discussed, but Never Actually Done Deal if something doesn't happen soon. Remember, this has been going on since February of last year. Maybe I'm the only one who's tired of the speculation.