The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is looking merry today, up more than 80 points by late morning. While economic announcements are relatively sparse two days before the Christmas holiday, there were a couple of bright spots that could be helping push the Dow skyward.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis released its latest Personal Income and Outlays report, showing that personal income rose more than $30 billion, or 0.2%, in November. Consumption increased $63 billion, a jump of 0.5%. For October, income dropped by $11.7 billion and consumption increased $44.2 billion.
The Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index stayed steady for its last December reading, registering the same 82.5 as it did at mid-month. Though a bit lower than the predicted 83.5, the consistent reading was a vast improvement over the last November print of 75.1.
Meanwhile, the Dow is unaffected by comments by Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker, who opined that the Fed will begin to raise the federal funds rate in 2015, which he predicts will settle at 2% by the end of that year.
JPMorgan addresses credit breach
Big banks are holding their own today, with Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS ) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) respectively up about 0.70% and 1%. JPMorgan is making headlines regarding the recent revelation about the security breach at Target, where as many as 40 million customer credit and debit cards were recently compromised.
The bank announced over the weekend that about 2 million Chase debit card customers who were likely affected by the breach would be constrained in their daily debit card activity, limiting cash withdrawals to $100 from the usual $200-$500, and purchases to $300 versus the customary limit of $500. While other big banks such as Bank of America and Citigroup have indicated that they are monitoring the situation, only JPMorgan has taken concrete action in an effort to limit damage from the breach.
Goldman Sachs is also on tap this morning, as The Wall Street Journal profiles the bank's crafty avoidance of one Volcker Rule dictate that no bank may own more than 3% of any hedge or private equity fund: Goldman has announced that it will invest up to 20% in a fund that features lending funds backed by big real estate holdings -- a notable exemption in the new law.
The exception for real estate loans from the definition of hedge funds and private equity investment products will allow Goldman to inject a hefty portion of its own capital into the project, according to the Journal, even though that may not be in keeping with the spirit of the new law.
Mr. Buffett's timeless wisdom
As every savvy investor knows, Warren Buffett didn't make billions by betting on half-baked stocks. He isolated his best few ideas, bet big, and rode them to riches, hardly ever selling. You deserve the same. That's why our CEO, legendary investor Tom Gardner, has permitted us to reveal The Motley Fool's 3 Stocks to Own Forever. These picks are free today! Just click here now to uncover the three companies we love.