Ukraine and Russia were the talk of the markets this week and made for some wild trading. Stocks were down big Monday when tensions increased, but Tuesday was one of the best days of the year, and by the end of the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was up 0.80%.
Russia is the world's largest oil producer, so it's worth keeping an eye on how it handles Ukraine and the region of Crimea, but the harsh drop of Russian stocks and the ruble on Monday may have been the warning it needed to not escalate the conflict. Russia's economy is on fragile ground, and markets showed that they'd crush Russian assets if a military conflict erupts.
While Russia garnered headlines, it was financial stocks that led the Dow Jones Industrial Average higher this week. Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) was the top stock, gaining 4.7%. Outside of hiring Apple's retiring CFO, Peter Oppenheimer, for its board of directors, there wasn't a lot of news out about Goldman this week. Goldman continues to benefit from the strong market for underwriting stock and bond offerings, and as long as the economy continues to improve, the finance giant will fare well.
JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) rose 4.5% this week and settled another lawsuit. The company agreed to pay $400 million to Syncora Guarantee to settle mortgage-backed-securities lawsuits. The bond insurer was claiming JPMorgan misrepresented the quality of loans in securitized and therefore increased liabilities to Syncora. This is on top of $23 billion in fines and settlements last year, but thus far it's done little to slow down JPMorgan's stock.
American Express (NYSE:AXP) was up 2.8% to round out the top three stocks this week. Again, there was little significant news, but the slowly improving economy is helping revenue and earnings as consumers spend more money. The other advantage American Express has is that it more heavily targets affluent consumers than its rivals do. Those consumers are doing well in this economy, which will bode well for American Express long-term.