Updated from 3:52 p.m. EDT
Down for the Day, Up for the Week( At 5:35 p.m. EDT) The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended with a loss Friday, but it still rose 6.8% for the week. That's the third straight weekly advance, and it takes the total move higher in that time to 17.3%. The last time it rose that much in a three-week span was 1982. Not bad at all. Even with the setback, the Dow remains up 10.1% for the month, though owing to weakness in January and February it's down 11.4% since 2009 began.
Still Not That Worried( At 3:40 p.m. EDT) Jamie Dimon says March hasn't been so great. The chief of JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) was offering up a different sort of commentary earlier this month, when he was comparatively upbeat about the start of the year. Ideally, he wouldn't have suggested we might be taking a step back, but I'm not terribly surprised. We're still in a serious recession. Jobs continue to be lost. Individuals and businesses appear reluctant to borrow. There's still plenty of fear out there and for good reason.
Would he have kicked off a rally if he had said "this month is the best so far in 2009?" Quite possibly. The fact is he didn't. What this says to me is we have to acknowledge the economy and the market are still in an awfully tough place, even as we try to embrace the signs of stability we get from time to time in places like housing. I've never said the coast is clear. Let's try not to get too worked up when we get the occasional reminder that all of our problems haven't been solved. As painful as it might be, maybe we need to hear that once in a while. Nearing the close, the Dow was down 134 points at 7791. We're still going extend the winning streak to three weeks. Nice to see.
As for stocks, JPMorgan was down 4.9%, and Citigroup ( C) was losing 5.3%. General Motors ( GM) remained the day's winner, adding 5.9% to $3.61.
Is It Friday Where You Are?( At 10:26 a.m. EDT) So the last trading day of the week starts with sellers in control. About an hour in to the session, the Dow was down 130 points to 7795, and 26 of its 30 components were falling. We're going to have days like this, bull market or not. Considering that as of Thursday's close the Dow is up 21% in under three weeks, I think we can forgive a little pullback. I'm not saying I'd complain if the market went up every day, or at least until long after I retire, but we all know that's not going to happen.
Only General Motors ( GM), Kraft ( KFT), Procter & Gamble ( PG) and Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ) escaped the downdraft. Citigroup ( C) was having the worst time, falling 8.2% to $2.58. Alcoa ( AA) was losing 5.4% to $7.68. The top performer was GM, up 12% at $3.82. The carmaker might need a little more time to get its house in order, but let's face, it's going to get it. Washington isn't going to deny the company 30 more days to secure the concessions it needs to present a viable business plan. Of course, that still won't solve the industrywide problem of car sales being in the tank. That's almost all for now, but I have to get this out. I try not to ask for too much, so I hope this will qualify as a modest request -- can anything be done to ensure that the IBM ( IBM) for Sun Microsystems ( JAVA) doesn't start to mimic Microsoft ( MSFT) for Yahoo! ( YHOO)? Just do it or drop it. I realize this is still a fairly new story, not the nearly 16-month slog to nowhere the other matter has been. Still, I think we should agree now that a repeat of that really would be unbearable for all of us. I'm sure you can join me in that, unless you like endless speculation followed by nothing actually ever happening. Real merger activity will help this market. The imagined kind, not so much.