Updated from 3:44 p.m. EDT
One Day to Go( At 5:39 p.m. EDT) Maybe the market should be open for an hour every day. Or even 30 minutes. It would save us all a lot of guessing, speculating, waiting for reversals that may or may not happen and trying to figure out what exactly is going on with stocks at any given time. Here's a summary of Wednesday's session: The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened higher, only to fall back at midmorning. Then it rallied into the afternoon, dropped when the minutes of the Fed meeting came out, only to bounce in the final hour to finish with a gain of 47.55 points, or 0.6%, at 7837.11. This pattern should be familiar if you've paid any attention whatsoever to the market over the past couple of years. Chaos, fear or uncertainty almost every day. Hard to remember the last time we had a nice, calm session.
Bernanke and Friends Have Bad News( At 3:30 p.m. EDT) The Federal Reserve told us this afternoon that the economy is struggling. After that breaking news, stocks became less interesting and the Dow turned lower. Listen, I'm not saying the minutes of the central bank's latest meeting were exactly uplifting, but we can't get a break lately. The industrials have been down both days this week, and for now appear incapable of rebounding even modestly. Of course, about half an hour remains in the trading day, so a recovery is possible. You just hate to see a downturn on news that shouldn't really come as a major surprise to anyone.
Does This Make Any Sense?( At 1:05 p.m. EDT) The Securities and Exchange Commission had a long debate on whether to bring back the uptick rule. Some life insurers may get TARP access. Pulte Homes ( PHM) is merging with Centex ( CTX). The minutes of the most recent Federal Reserve meeting will be out later. Nouriel Roubini had more commentary about the market, and it wasn't good. Pirates attack U.S. ship. U.S. crew turns on pirates and retakes ship. We think. A coworker is asking me if Jennifer Aniston is still dating John Mayer. I have a headache with all of this. What a day. So what does it all mean? Who knows. It's a lot to digest. What we do know is this -- the Dow Jones Industrial Average has strengthened since midmorning and was up about 80 points at 7869 with around three hours left in the trading session. If it can stay in the green, the index will have its first advance of the week.
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