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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) fell sharply shortly after the market opened, losing 39 points. But the index was making its way back to breakeven, with peaks that just missed the heights of Friday's close -- until 11 a.m. EDT, when the Dow surged past that mark to a 12-point gain. Without any major economic news today, investors are left to their own devices, creating uncertainty over whether the markets will see a fifth week of gains.
Economic news quiet
The calendar of events is pretty sparse this week, but investors may be setting their sights on Wednesday, when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will testify before Congress on the state of the economy. Since there has been increased interest on behalf of the FOMC members to start paring down the current bond purchases in its QE policy, the market will be looking for any signs in Bernanke's testimony that that may happen sooner than later.
Also starting on Wednesday, investors will get a bevvy of housing data that may move the markets. New and existing home sales data, as well as the FHFA home price index and mortgage application activity, are sure to stir up some movement in the markets. Since the huge drop in housing starts last week, concerns about the housing market's rebound have developed, so the sales data will be especially important as a sign for the demand of current inventory.
Inside the Dow
Just after 11 a.m. EDT, financials are some of the stocks helping the Dow surge higher. American Express (NYSE: AXP ) is leading the way with a 1.43% gain in trading. The personal finance company may still be enjoying the boost it got from news that more merchants will be capable of accepting its cards thanks to the digital payment service Paymill. Though the service allows merchants the capability of accepting the cards, there is still a chance that some will not, since AmEx charges higher processing fees than some of its competitors.
Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) is also headed higher this morning, with a 0.64% gain so far. Though the bank was just downgraded to "market perform" by KBW, investors may be more interested in how the bank is performing in the courtroom. After the New York Attorney General filed a suit against B of A and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC ) for violating the terms of a foreclosure settlement, the bank went on the defensive. Bank of America filed a letter stating that the AG had no right to file suit against it since it had not been informed of the formal violations and had not been given a chance to remedy the alleged violations. It seems that the bank may have had a point, as the NYAG office has modified the charges and suspended the case, according to the Iowa AG office, which is a member of the foreclosure settlement monitoring committee.
JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM ) had a bigger battle this morning, but has crossed over into positive territory with a 0.02% gain. The bank reported concerns over the weekend about dragging earnings in emerging markets, along with more headwinds during the remainder of the year. The bank was a leader of the Dow last week, gaining more than 2%, but tomorrow's showdown over Jamie Dimon's dual CEO-chairman roles may be causing some investors to hold back.
With big finance firms still trading at deep discounts to their historic norms, investors everywhere are wondering if this is the new normal, or if finance stocks are a screaming buy today. The answer depends on the company, so to help figure out whether JPMorgan is a buy today, check out The Motley Fool's premium research report on the company. Click here now for instant access!