The new year is practically upon us, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) is up more than 55 points at 12 p.m. EST following a fabulous jump in business, consumer, and investor confidence levels.
The Wall Street Journal reported that small businesses are feeling just peachy about the coming year, with 75% of entrepreneurs surveyed saying that they expect sales to pick up next year. The WSJ/Vistage Small Business CEO Survey found that business owners' confidence level measured a peppy 108.4, the highest in 18 months.
Consumers are feeling joyful, too. The Conference Board noted a consumer confidence level of 78.1 for December, an impressive jump from November's 72.0. Better yet, it appears that consumers share small business owners' sunny outlook for 2014: the Expectations Index increased to 79.4 from the previous reading of 71.1.
Rising levels of good cheer were also apparent in the State Street Investor Confidence Index release this morning. On a worldwide scale, investors reported feeling more hopeful, resulting in a rise in the Global ICI to 95.9 in December -- a surge of 4.7 points from the prior month. Although European sentiment registered the highest jump -- to 107.1 from November's 101 -- U.S. confidence rose as well, from 89.2 to 90.2.
Financials flying high
All this positivity is having an invigorating effect on financial stocks, with American Express (NYSE: AXP) leading the Dow with a rise of 1% and index heavy-hitter Visa (NYSE: V) up 0.57%.
It's not hard to see why these companies are soaring today. The predicted uptick in sales for 2014, as reflected in the WSJ survey, can only translate into more business for the two payments companies, both of which have made stupendous gains this year. Visa has seen its share value rise by nearly 47% in 2013, while American Express has tallied an inspiring gain of 57%.
The fact that consumers seem to concur with business owners' rosy outlook only reinforces the view that, despite the achievements of 2013, next year promises to be even better for these financial transaction companies.
Premium investing advice
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.