After gaining nearly 100 points yesterday the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is up only 0.13% as of 2:45 P.M EDT, taking a breather before tomorrow's closely watched payroll and unemployment rate report. Today didn't lack news: Initial unemployment claims fell 9,000 to 323,000 last week, which was better than the expected figure of 330,000. That brought the four-week moving average down to 328,500, the lowest level since October 2007. Further, the ISM Non-Manufacturing Index rose to 58.6 in August, beating both analyst expectations and July's reading of 56. The news failed to impress the market, and most Dow components are trading flat today, but a few companies have managed to buck the trend.
American Express (NYSE: AXP ) is the Dow's biggest gainer today, up 1.3%. Headlines on the company have been mixed recently. In late August, consumers rated American Express the highest in customer satisfaction among U.S. credit card companies for the seventh year in a row, according to a study by J.D. Power. However, mere days later CardHub.com issued its own study regarding credit card companies and their rewards programs, and American Express rated poorly regarding its clarity and fees.
Regardless of the day-to-day headlines, American Express has an affluent base of cardholders who spend more annually on their AmEx cards than its competitors' customers. This makes it popular with merchants and creates a virtuous cycle for its network effect, making the company more valuable as more consumers use American Express.
JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM ) is another winner on the Dow today, up 0.8% despite recent negative headlines regarding its possible manipulation of energy markets and suspicious hiring in the company's Asia offices. One possible reason for investors to remain optimistic is the recent news that JP Morgan will be one of the lead underwriters for the proposed offering by LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD ) . LinkedIn plans to unleash a stock offering off class "A" shares worth at least $1 billion. While LinkedIn shares had a minor pullback after the announcement, the company will be able to strengthen its balance sheet using the cash generated while its stock price trades near all-time highs.
Outside the Dow, Universal Display (NASDAQ: OLED ) is up 5.4% today as investors grow more confident that the market for organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs, is finally coming around. One of the most visible signs of this is in recent OLED TV advertising. Although only two OLED TVs are on sale in the U.S. -- and both come with hefty price tags of nearly $9,000 and $15,000, respectively -- it may be the next technology to go mainstream. LG predicts that OLED panels will be cheaper than LCD screens as soon as 2016. As possibilities for OLED technology are still being developed, this could be the beginning of a bright future for Universal Display.
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