Visa Leads the Dow -- Again

It may be Friday the 13th, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is staying in the green so far today -- up about 20 points just before noon EST --  following a week full of economic news, Federal Reserve taper chatter, federal budget advances, and financial-reform rule approvals.

Helping to prop up the Dow this morning is credit card giant Visa (NYSE: V  ) , coming back after stumbling a bit after a big showing earlier in the week.

With no big news happening today, the markets appear to be moderating. The federal budget is on track to be approved by the U.S. Senate next week after sailing through the House of Representatives late yesterday.

Although some analysts are saying today that a decision by the Federal Open Market Committee to begin begin pulling back its stimulus efforts is imminent, there is no sign of taper terror in the market this morning. Of course, there's plenty of time for that, as the FOMC commences its last meeting of 2013 on Dec. 17.

Visa still strong
With the holiday shopping season in full swing, the likelihood that consumers will be exercising their credit cards increases. Both Visa and rival MasterCard (NYSE: MA  ) are in the green today despite a report that more consumers are staying away from stores this year.

The Associated Press reported that shoppers appear to be taking a breather due to reasons such as lingering financial concerns and the hyper-marketing of the holiday season. Some consumers, the article notes, were put off by Thanksgiving Day retail store openings this year.

Of course, shoppers could just be waiting for last-minute deals, at which time many will doubtless be whipping out their credit cards. Typically, retailers make between 20% and 40% of their yearly sales at this time of year, so more shopping is probably on tap. Also, the increased online purchasing activity this year very probably means a rise in credit card use, since payment options when shopping on the Internet are not conducive to cash transactions.

Just before noon, Visa was up 0.6%, a slight dip from its intraday high so far, but it doesn't look in danger of losing much steam. After all, there are only two shopping weekends left until Christmas.

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