Updated from 2:55 p.m. EDT
Tomorrow, the Jobs Report( At 4:45 p.m. EDT) The market lost a little momentum late in the session Thursday, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average still closed up 216.48 points, or 2.8%, at 7978.08, taking the two-day gain to 369 points. Can't much complain about starting a new month and quarter off like that. The next big event will be the jobs report Friday morning. It's going to be bad again. We all know that. What we don't know is how bad. Analysts are expecting somewhere around 650,000 more jobs were lost across the country last month. Remember the last time anything good came out of a report on employment? Me neither. That's terrible news, and there's really no other way to say it. Not many signs the situation is improving unfortunately. Though it's no consolation to anyone who's out of work, since such low expectations are already out there the rally might be able to stay intact when the wretched numbers arrive. We've seen it happen before. Then again, if the reality proves more painful than expected, watch out. As for this day, 27 of the Dow's 30 stocks rose. The three decliners, Pfizer ( PFE), Microsoft ( MSFT) and Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ), were only fractionally weaker. The biggest percentage gains were posted by General Motors ( GM) and Caterpillar ( CAT), up more than 8% each. Alcoa ( AA), DuPont ( DD) and Disney ( DIS) had increases that exceeded 7%. IBM ( IBM), however, was the main contributor to move higher, accounting for 25.57 points of the total. We'll see what tomorrow holds, but at this point the Dow is in position to advance for the fourth consecutive week. The loss for the year has been cut to 9.1%, while the index is up 21.9% since March 9, when it ended at its lowest point in 12 years.
We Are the World( At 2:40 p.m. EDT) The cure for insomnia has been found, and it is the G-20 communique. Kidding. The lengthy document that was released just a bit ago will require a commitment on your part if you want to read it, but it has its moments. More funds for poor countries and money for job creation. Hard to be bothered by that.
The Neverending Rally( At 11:12 a.m. EDT) The Dow Jones Industrial Average hasn't closed above 8000 since Feb. 9. Why do I point that out? Because recently the index was up more than 240 points, putting it above that level. Another day, another rally. So long, bear market. No doubt that's optimistic, but the industrials have gotten the second quarter off to quite a start.
We have a few things going on that are helping. The Financial Accounting Standards Board has decided to give the banks a break on mark-to-market rules. The G-20 meeting doesn't seem to have so far scared away buyers, though personally I'm not ready to say I'm completely behind this talk about stronger regulations to rein in capitalism. I suppose we'll have to see the details before we can pass judgment. Fortunately, Germany and France seem to be making the most noise at this point, so that's good, at least. On the subject of what's aiding the lift, I wanted to pass this along. Over on RealMoney.com, Rev Shark offered this about the move higher: "The greater possible catalyst is the panic of underinvested bulls who feel like they better chase or they will never get in this market." Something to think about if you want to bet on how long this rally could go. Remember, the Dow ended at 6547 on March 9, meaning the current surge is closing in on 1,500 points. As for the Dow's individual stocks, 28 of the 30 were higher. The only laggards were the drug components, Pfizer ( PFE) and Merck ( MRK). For its part, Pfizer said it would stop a late-stage study of Sutent for breast cancer, though it plans to continue other trials of the drug in treating the disease. Shares were down 0.4% at $13.92. Merck was losing 5 cents, or 0.2%, to $26.94. The banks were among the winners, with Citigroup ( C), JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) and Bank of America ( BAC) all climbing. However, the top percentage gainer was General Motors ( GM), up 10.4% at $2.13. Of course, this stock has dropped more than 40% so far this week. Alcoa ( AA) followed with an 8.8% increase to $8.27. Speaking of GM, if you think a bankruptcy for the automaker would be quick and easy, I would point you to this report from Bloomberg. Worth a read.