Credit the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) for beating back its earlier lows at the end of a lackluster week. The blue-chip index fell as far as 150 points earlier in today's session, but as of 2:15 p.m. EDT the Dow's crawled all the way back to a loss of about 50 points. Financial stocks are leading the index downward, and the Dow's few risers are having a hard time making much headway. Let's dig into the stories and movers you need to know about.
No help for American Express
Wall Street picked up some good news early, but it has had little impact on the markets today. The University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters index of American consumer confidence ticked up to a reading of 85.1 in July, beating average analyst predictions and increasing a full point over June's mark. Decreasing unemployment and increasing home prices helped fuel the gain as average Americans feel better about their finances.
That hasn't helped one of the Dow's biggest consumer-oriented members today, however. Shares of American Express (NYSE: AXP ) have fallen 1% despite the encouraging report. The credit card company has had a good run recently, capped off by a strong earnings report that showed American Express gaining 3.5% in revenue and 4.9% in net earnings for the second quarter on the back of increased consumer spending.
However, a European Commission proposal to restrict transaction fees has unnerved investors in recent weeks about the company's business across the Atlantic. But so long as American consumer spending and confidence continue to pick up, American Express won't be in danger.
JPMorgan's (NYSE: JPM ) having an even worse day, down 1.2%. Like American Express, JPMorgan delivered a beat in its most recent quarterly earnings report. However, the company's net interest income fell 4% for the quarter, and U.S. interest rates aren't likely to rise significantly anytime soon -- even as the Federal Reserve contemplates tapering back stimulus bond-buying by the end of the year. That area of JPMorgan's business could continue to slump in the future, even while the big bank performs well overall.
Intel (NASDAQ: INTC ) is among the Dow's handful of gainers, but the chip maker's stock has only picked up 0.4% so far. Intel has done a great job pivoting away from the PC sector's decline recently, turning instead to delivering semiconductors to support the server market. The company's looking at the microserver market now with its new Atom C2000 chip that's built to deliver on efficiency, according to tech site ZDNet.
Intel's new push into mobile may be the company's most fascinating -- and promising -- advance if the firm can pull it off. The chip maker's rivals have beaten it to dominance in tech's most visible market, but Intel's not giving up. Intel already provides chips for phones from ZTE and Lenovo, among others, and the company has pushed into tablets with its deal with Samsung to provide chips for the Galaxy Tab 3 line. Intel may not be as strong as its mobile competitors yet, but the company's first steps into the field look promising.
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