Dow Watch: Blame Boeing

(At 4:54 p.m. EDT)

So much for eight. But it was fun while it lasted, right?

Yes, the Dow's streak of seven winning sessions in a row has been snapped, as the blue-chip average ended the day lower by 34.68 points at 8881.26. While it may be a little disheartening that the streak is over, the Dow's seven-day gain of 735 points, or 9%, is pretty darn impressive. If the index were a blackjack player in Las Vegas, the buffet dinner and maybe even one night of hotel fare would likely be comped.

Boeing ( BA) was the main culprit for the Dow's decline, as shares turned negative around 1:30 p.m. EDT and never recovered. The stock ended down 2.4% at $42, having been up 1% earlier in the day after Boeing delivered fairly strong results in the second quarter.

Losses of 2% or more in Caterpillar ( CAT), American Express ( AXP), and Coca-Cola ( KO) probably didn't help either. On the other hand, The Travelers Cos. ( TRV) was the brightest spot on the Dow, adding 1.6%.

So what's next for the Dow? That will all depend on earnings Thursday. American Express, AT&T ( T), 3M ( MMM), McDonald's ( MCD) and Microsoft ( MSFT) are the next Dow components on tap to report quarterly results. The Dow's direction Thursday will no doubt depend on these results.

(At 2:28 p.m. EDT)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average continues to dance around the unchanged mark, holding in a pretty tight trading range. At its worst, the Dow was down 56 points, and at its best the index was higher by 33 points. Lately it was down only 0.07 point.

Among its individual components, General Electric ( GE) was the best gainer, rising 1.7%, followed by a 1.6% rise in Pfizer ( PFE) shares. Losses of 2% or more in Caterpillar ( CAT) and Coca-Cola ( KO) counterbalanced that

If the Dow does manage to eke out a gain, it will best the last seven-day winning streak, which ended on April 20, 2007. So, what exactly prompted that long streak in April 2007? Positive earnings from a handful of components that week pushed the Dow to an all-time high (at the time) of 12,966.29.

Fast-forward to now. Not much is really different - except for the obvious fact that the Dow isn't making new all-time highs every day. Even after the April 2007 streak ended, the Dow continued its march higher the following week, establishing record closes for what seemed like the entire summer, ultimately topping out at 14164.53 on Oct. 9, 2007.

For now, bulls will just be happy if each day is better than the last. We've come a long way since the March 9 lows (36.2%), but we're still down 37% from that record close in Oct. 2007.

(At 10:49 a.m. EDT)

Is eight really enough?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average's winning streak, currently at seven straight sessions, is in jeopardy to start Wednesday's session, as the index hugged the flat line around 8897. For now, it seems as though planes and drugs are a formidable match for banks.

Let me clarify: Earnings from Boeing ( BA) and Pfizer ( PFE) came in ahead of Wall Street's estimates, making Dow members that have beaten forecasts in the second-quarter earnings season a perfect 14 for 14.

Boeing beat second-quarter estimates as net income rose 17% from a year ago, but the company declined to update the status of its oft-delayed rollout of its 787 Dreamliner or its earnings guidance. Boeing expects to issue a new 787 schedule during the third quarter, at which time earnings guidance will be reevaluated. For now, Boeing left its guidance unchanged.

Pfizer, meanwhile, raised its 2009 adjusted earnings guidance to $1.90 to $2 a share from its previous forecast of $1.85 to $1.95 a share. Wall Street anticipates full-year earnings of $1.96 a share.

However, financial stocks Morgan Stanley ( MS), Wells Fargo ( WFC) and KeyCorp ( KEY) were sharply lower following their respective earnings releases Wednesday, putting pressure on the market.

Despite those declines, a 0.5% rise in Boeing shares and a 2.1% gain in Pfizer shares helped the Dow rebound from a weaker open. Advances of 1.3% in McDonald's ( MCD) and Kraft ( KFT) shares also helped the index.

AUDIO: Paul Nolte, director of investments with Hinsdale Associates, explains why Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley, despite not being components of the Dow, were such a drag on the blue-chip average to start Wednesday's session.

Away from earnings news, Procter & Gamble ( PG) is getting closer to selling its prescription-drug business, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Parties such as drug maker Warner Chilcott ( WCRX) and private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management are involved in the later-stage talks with P&G, the report said, citing people familiar with the situation.

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