Long Way Back

(At 10:55 a.m. EDT)

Well what do you know. The Dow went positive for the year. It's true. Wasn't that long ago that it seemed like it would never happen, but thanks to that 2,300-point gain since March, those darkest of days for Wall Street traders, the index finally made it.

There's no way of knowing what my colleagues elsewhere in the news business will make of this, but I think there's a chance this could actually reclaim some of that copious space that's been devoted to the Jon & Kate Plus 8 drama in recent weeks. Not that it isn't captivating.

Recently the DJIA was up 51 points at 8802, putting it above 2008's closing level of just over 8776. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite had left behind their older sibling this year, but now the industrials are in the green.

No guarantee the Dow is actually going to stay there, because it isn't exactly a powerful rally and the average has already been negative for a time today. Still, it is another positive, or at the very least a conversation piece.

Helping the stock market was the latest employment report from the government. While the number of jobs lost -- 345,000 -- was better than expected, the unemployment rate rose to 9.4% and was worse than the consensus estimate.

We still have a long way to go before we see growth in the labor market, but it's a step in the right direction and some patience is going to be required.

Losers and winners were basically tied, with the worst percentage decliner being DuPont ( DD), off 6% at $27 following an analyst downgrade. Boeing ( BA) and Alcoa ( AA) were the best, up around 4% each. Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) and United Technologies ( UTX) were each adding close to 3%.

Wal-Mart ( WMT) was also on the upside, tacking on 1.1% to $51.45, following word it plans a new $15 billion buyback.

As for Merck ( MRK), it wasn't as fortunate, down 1.9% to $26.08 on word that a heart failure drug fell short of its targets in a clinical study.

Meanwhile, lame duck component GM ( GMGMQ) was at 83 cents on the pink sheets. Its official exit will come Monday, remember, when it will be replaced with Cisco ( CSCO). Since Tuesday though, we've basically had the Dow 29.

Speaking of GM, here's a candidate for head-scratcher of the day. The Wall Street Journal says that GM will help finance the buyout of auto-parts company Delphi ( DPHIQ). The bankrupt leading the bankrupt?

According to this report, GM will put up more than $2.5 billion of the $3.6 billion needed for Platinum Equity to take over Delphi and this was "incorporated into GM's revised viability plan." Why not?

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