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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) has been dropping like a stone this morning -- down more than 75 points at noon -- despite the good news that Washington is finally moving toward accepting a federal budget, thereby calming fears of another government shutdown early next year. A couple of things could be upsetting the market: a boisterous tea-party contingent looking to disrupt the agreement and concerns that reversing sequester cuts could spur the Federal Reserve to taper quantitative easing earlier than expected.
Mortgage activity picked up last week, with the Mortgage Bankers Association noting an uptick in refinance business, as well as purchase loan activity. The refinance reading was up 2.1% while purchases rose 0.9% from the week previous.
Credit card investors share in holiday cheer
MasterCard (NYSE: MA ) made a huge announcement late yesterday, telling investors that it will increase its dividend by 83%, as well as instituting a 10-for-1 stock split, effective Jan. 9, 2014. The company's board also approved a $3.5 billion class A share repurchase program.
Needless to say, MasterCard's stock has been on a tear ever since, and some of that cheer is spreading to rival Visa (NYSE: V ) , which is up more than 4% so far today. Visa's investors are no doubt wondering what kind of holiday bonus they might expect. Although Visa's share price is nowhere near as hefty as MasterCard's, both companies have experienced excellent growth this year -- and Visa's investors may be expecting a bigger dividend under their tree, too.
Big banks JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs are both down more than 1% just before noon, despite the industry getting a little holiday present of its own. Following yesterday's acceptance and implementation of the Volcker rule, big-bank investors should be celebrating. The concerns over a prohibition against using their own funds in trading activities is now moot, as the latest iteration of the rule left market-making largely unchanged. This is particularly good news for Goldman, which rakes in a good portion of its annual revenue from such activity.
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