Updated from 12:02 p.m. EDT

This Month Is Good After All

( At 5:50 p.m. EDT)

How do you like them apples? The Dow Jones Industrial Average got the second quarter started in fine style, rising 152.68 points, or 2%, to 7761.60 Wednesday.

If the quarter ended right now, the Dow would be up 2%. That's going to have count as my April Fools' Day humor, because it's too late in the day to gather the energy for anything better.

Now let's be serious. The index saw 27 of its 30 components rise, while one, Intel ( INTC), was unchanged. American Express ( AXP) was the top percentage gainer, climbing 7.4% to $14.44.

Citigroup ( C), JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) and Microsoft ( MSFT) were each up more than 5%. DuPont ( DD) overcame unfavorable commentary from an analyst to advance almost that much.

The only laggards were two manufacturers -- General Motors ( GM), again, and Boeing ( BA). In both cases, though, the losses were minimal. GM slipped 1 cent to $1.93, and Boeing shed 14 cents to $35.44.

On Thursday, remember to be on the lookout for any developments coming out of the Financial Accounting Standards Board meeting that will deal with mark-to-market guidelines. The banks are really hoping to see this go in their favor, and it could have a considerable impact on earnings. Stay tuned.

Not Great, but Not Terrible


( At 11:40 am. EDT)

I've been trying to come up with a clever comment about who the April Fools' Day joke is on, but it's just not happening. So I'll stick to the facts.

Some of the day's economic data wasn't as horrendous as traders had feared, and we've got a rally going. The Dow, lower by more than 100 points shortly after the open, was recently up 57 points.

The ADP report on employment was nothing to cheer, though it's awfully hard to find anyone these days with anything positive to say about the job market. We know the government's numbers on Friday are going to be bad, it's just a question of magnitude at this point. The other figures on housing and manufacturing were a little more encouraging, and that helped bring in some buyers.

Of the Dow's 30 components, nine were falling and the other 21 were advancing. Both oil stocks, Chevron ( CVX) and Exxon Mobil ( XOM), were lagging. Boeing ( BA) was off 1.3% after cautious remarks from analysts.

General Motors ( GM), which briefly and inexplicably edged ahead in the premarket, was the worst performer on a percentage basis, declining 7.7% to $1.79. A bit later, the downtrodden automaker will post its March sales along with the rest of the sector. Should be ugly.

Financials improved significantly from their early levels. Citigroup ( C) was pacing the gainers with a 6.5% increase to $2.69. Bank of America ( BAC) and JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) were up 4%.

And I still have four hours to come up with a joke.

Let's Go Back to Last Month

( At 9:10 a.m. EDT)

Looks like we could be in for a less than inspiring start to the second quarter. Well, at least we'll always have March.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average are suggesting a lower open for the index as April and a new quarter arrive. Recently, they were down 89 points at 7473.

General Motors ( GM), after two days that wiped out more than 40% of its market cap, was up 2 cents at $1.96. Makes sense. Bankruptcy speculation is continuing to build. Why not bid up the shares?

Two other stocks worth watching as the session progresses will be Boeing ( BA) and DuPont ( DD). The planemaker was downgraded at Wachovia, while the chemicals company had its price target and estimates lowered at Jefferies. Neither stock was trading in the premarket, but those comments could weigh on the shares.

Financials might also be a drag -- Citigroup ( C), Bank of America ( BAC) and JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) were all losing ground in the early going.