The Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) jumped early Wednesday, gaining 142 points as of 11 a.m. EDT, as investors wait for the latest on the Federal Reserve's thought process. The central bank will release minutes from its most recent Federal Open Market Committee meeting on monetary policy, and bullish investors hope the information will give even more support to the view that low rates will persist longer than some more pessimistic forecasters expect. Helping to lead the Dow higher were JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), both of which announced interesting business moves that could bolster their long-term prospects.
Goldman Sachs rose 2% as the investment bank joined the count of Wall Street firms aiming to reduce their exposure to commodities-market businesses. Goldman Sachs said yesterday that it has started looking at selling its metals warehousing business, Metro International Trade Services, which has drawn controversy among regulators and allegations that certain practices linked to warehousing have resulted in market disruptions. The Dow Jones company bought Metro in the aftermath of the financial crisis, and Goldman's active effort to contact potential buyers is an affirmative step that the bank hasn't made in the past, according to a Reuters report. Yet unlike JPMorgan Chase and other companies outside the Dow Jones Industrials that have more aggressively exited the commodities arena, Goldman Sachs appears poised to hang on to some of its core commodities exposure, with the Metro sale being a tactical and targeted move.
JPMorgan Chase climbed nearly 1.5% as it announced a $100 million initiative to support the economic recovery of the city of Detroit. The investment will include $40 million in long-term loans and $10 million in grants to support community development, as well as $25 million toward fighting residential blight. The remaining funds from the Dow component bank will go toward workforce development and skill-building, small-business support, and an investment in the M-1 rail line. Efforts like these could help improve JPMorgan Chase's reputation among ordinary Americans, many of whom continue to blame big banks for the economic crises that caused devastating financial consequences like the Detroit bankruptcy. If JPMorgan Chase can demonstrate that banks can bring about positive change in local communities, though, it could succeed in humanizing too-big-to-fail financial institutions and start repairing the reputational damage that the financial crisis wrought.
The Dow is benefiting from the positive impact of financial stocks today, but a lot depends on what the Fed actually says. If investors don't like what they see, a big reversal could be in the cards for Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and the Dow Jones Industrials as a whole.