Morning Dow Report: 52nd Record Looks Likely as American Express, Goldman Sachs Climb

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Going back to the first trading day of 2013, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) soared more than 308 points, getting the year off to a momentous start. Now, 363 days after that Jan. 2 jump, the Dow is finishing the blockbuster year in a somewhat calmer way, gaining 34 points as of 11 a.m. EST but positioned to set its 52nd record closing high of the year. Helping the Dow's efforts are American Express (NYSE: AXP  ) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) , even as Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  ) is weighing on the average today.

American Express led early Dow gainers with a 1% jump following favorable economic data on consumer confidence. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index soared from 72 last month to 78.1 in December, supporting the idea that the consumers on which AmEx depends for spending activity are feeling more upbeat about the nation's future economic prospects. Given the concerns that many had just a couple months ago following the government shutdown, the positive reading bodes well for spending activity that could boost AmEx's prospects for 2014.

Goldman Sachs rose 0.8% to a more-than-three-year high as investors weighed yesterday's comments from analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein. Bernstein pointed to the possibility for as much as a 35% gain from current levels, if Goldman's various business divisions produce perfect performance at the same time. Fool contributor Alex Dumortier recently called for investors to rein in their expectations for Goldman in 2014, but if the capital markets continue to cooperate, further growth for the bank isn't unreasonable.

Johnson & Johnson fell 0.7% despite getting a favorable comment from analysts at Wells Fargo. According to the bank, sales of J&J's Zytiga should continue to pick up in 2014, bolstering already significant market-share gains for the prostate cancer drug in recent months. The move indicates the importance of J&J's pharmaceutical division to its overall results, and even though the company's fairly pricey valuation justifies a small pullback, Johnson & Johnson merits further consideration in the coming year.

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