Updated from 3:39 p.m. EDT
Don't Act Surprised( At 5:40 p.m. EDT) Here we go again. It's all about the end of the day. Accept it. Everything else is preseason, spring training, a warm-up. Call it whatever you want. The last hour is all that counts. You know it. The Dow Jones Industrial Average didn't have a lot going on for much of the session Wednesday, so be grateful for the time between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. EDT. At the end of the day, the index had gained 109.44 points, or 1.4%, to close at 8029.62, thanks largely to the final 60 minutes. Among the 30 stocks, only five fell. None of the losses were that bad. Microsoft ( MSFT) was down 2.7%, and Intel ( INTC) shed 2.4%. Citigroup ( C) nearly erased all of its loss before settling down 4 cents at $3.97.
It's Better Isn't It?( At 3:21 p.m. EDT) The 12 banks of the Federal Reserve System have spoken. The nation's central bankers have collected their data from the various regions around this great land, turned it into the beige book and informed us that the falloff in the economy appears to be showing some signs of moderating. Sadly, no boost. No pickup. Still flat. The Dow was tacking on a measly 11 points at 7931. What gives? It's better out there, folks. Personally, I think this observation from RealMoney's Rev Shark makes a lot of sense: "I'm very concerned that it is going to become much tougher for the market to make more upside progress from this point. We are going to need some real improvement in the economy rather than just slowing in the magnitude of the decline." Good point. We can't just go along not getting worse forever and expect that to turn things around. At any rate, the Dow has largely been treading water throughout the session. Citigroup ( C) and Intel ( INTC) remain the downside leaders, each by about 4% of late. American Express ( AXP) was pacing the advancing issues, up 7.4% to $19.80. We have about 30 minutes left. Now's when it can get very interesting.
For Now, Up a Little( At 12:30 p.m. EDT) The Dow has had plenty of news to deal with Wednesday, though so far it's basically amounted to a standstill. The index has traded in a narrow range, 7871 to 7980, and recently it was up 45 points at 7966. The inflation data signaled consumer prices overall are staying down, but foreclosures might be going up. Capacity utilization and industrial production are falling. New York manufacturing data, however, are looking a little better. The beige book is due later.
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