The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) can't seem to get out of its funk this morning, weighed down by a lack of enthusiasm over the Federal Open Market Committee minutes released yesterday, as well as newcomer and Dow heavyweight Visa's (NYSE: V ) unexciting third-quarter financial results.
Taper concerns remain
The FOMC minutes were clear regarding the state of the economy -- unemployment is still too high, economic growth is being constrained by fiscal policy, and housing has slowed -- and the fact that it will continue its bond-buying program for the foreseeable future.
Still, worries remain, as some see a December taper as a possibility, despite the fact that the next FOMC meeting takes place on Dec. 17 and 18, making policy changes for that month unlikely. But markets are down today, so investors may still feel uneasy about the eventual end of QE3.
In other economic news, the Department of Labor noted that initial jobless claims were down by 10,000 for the week ending Oct. 26, compared with the previous week . Bloomberg's Consumer Confidence Index showed lingering concerns about the economy, however, falling for five weeks in a row to its lowest level in a year.
Visa: A decent showing, but not good enough
Although Visa missed analysts' estimates on revenue, the credit card giant pumped up net income by 15% year over year, and operating revenues were up 9% since the year-ago quarter. Importantly, payments volume growth, on a constant-dollar basis, swelled 13% from last year, for a total of $1.1 trillion. Additionally, the company announced a $5 billion share buyback program -- usually music to stockholders' ears.
But investors punished the stock anyway, and it was down more than 4% earlier this morning. Shortly before noon, it began to rally a bit, but was still the day's biggest loser.
To make matter worse for poor Visa, nemesis MasterCard (NYSE: MA ) showed up with its own earnings announcement, in which it topped estimates on both earnings and revenue. MasterCard's net income rose 14% over last year, while operating income was up by 17%. Global purchase volume swelled by 14% over the past year, as well. MasterCard was in the green for most of the morning, but has begun to wilt shortly before noon.
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