U.S. stocks started lower on Wednesday, kicking off the second quarter amid worries about General Motors and data showing the labor market weakened further in March. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 97 points to 7,511. GM is down 5%. The S&P 500 Index shed 12 points to 785 while the Nasdaq Composite declined 25 points to 1,503. Unfortunately, today is starting like the beginning of every recent quarter with weakness. The financials are lower except for Goldman and Morgan which Dick Bove expects to perform well under the government's stress test. Mastercard is down 5% after agreeing to cut fees in Europe to settle a lawsuit. Thornburg Mortgage had to file for bankruptcy today. A sad sign. The techs are lower although VMware, Amazon, Akamai, Autodesk, and Nvidia were all upgraded. VMware is up 6%. EMC is lower on a downgrade. At 10 o'clock, better than expected housing sales and other economic data brought the buyers back in. The financials recovered quickly with many moving into the green. A very positive sign. Oil pushed lower on higher inventory numbers. Another positive sign. After the first hour, the Dow rose 50 points led by the financials. The Nasdaq rose just 6 points. A great start to the day. I hope it lasts. Through the morning the averages gave up some of their gains, but remained in positive territory. The retail sector is fixed today. Urban Outfitters is down 6% after lowering estimates. The once high-flying shoe company, Heelys is down 7% after missing estimates by a wide margin. In the afternoon, the averages kept pushing higher in a more broad based participation. All the automakers reported awful March sales. I can't remember the last time auto sales increased. Entering the last hour, the averages were off the highs, but finished strong. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 152 points, or 2%, at 7,761. The S&P 500 Index gained 13 points, or 1.7%, at 811, while the Nasdaq Composite jumped 23 points, or 1.5%, to close at 1,551.
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