(At 4:03 p.m. EDT)

Well, after all that, the Dow keeps its winning streak intact, finishing once again not far from the highs of the session. It took a round-about path to get there, though.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped out to a strong start on the back of earnings from five different components, rising as many as 78 points. However, the blue-chip average took a short detour into negative territory, losing as many as 37 points before ultimately finishing up 67.79 points at 8915.94.

The Dow's seven-day winning streak, the first of this duration since one that ended April 20, 2007, has been good for about 770 points, or a whopping 9.5%. The Dow continues to inch closer to its highest levels of the year, set in January. Despite the recent move higher, some market observers continue to note that the market remains in a trading range.

Caterpillar ( CAT) and Merck ( MRK) were the best performers on the Dow, up 7.7% and 6.1%, respectively, following earnings releases this morning from both.

On the other hand, United Technologies ( UTX), DuPont ( DD) and Coca-Cola ( KO) were among the Dow's 13 laggards following their own earnings reports Tuesday.

Alcoa ( AA), though, was the biggest decliner, losing 4.3% on no particular news at all.

Looking ahead, the Dow will get its direction Wednesday from Boeing ( BA) and Pfizer ( PFE), the latest two components to report quarterly results.

Boeing is expected to report a second-quarter profit of $1.21 a share on revenue of $17.15 billion, according to a Thomson Reuters poll of analysts. Pfizer, meanwhile, is expected to record a second-quarter profit of 47 cents a share on sales of $11.27 billion.

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