The Dow Jones Industrial Average is on the verge of its hottest winning streak in years. If the index can maintain its climb and finish the session above yesterday’s closing level, it will record nine straight trading days of gains (which also happen to be all-time highs). This morning the blue-chip index dropped more than 30 points, but it has since been crawling back toward breakeven. As of 11:55 a.m. EDT, it’s down 15 points, or 0.11%.
The markets were bolstered this morning by news that February retail sales jumped 1.1%, much higher than the 0.5% gain economists had expected. February’s rise is the largest our economy has seen since September and follows a disappointing 0.2% gain in January. Many analysts believe retail sales have improved because the higher payroll tax, which burdened the January sales figures, is now better accommodated by a stronger job market and higher household income.
Winning in a sea of losers
Only 12 of the Dow’s 30 component stocks are in positive territory so far in trading. And though none of the gainers are making any big moves, there is one sector that is clearly standing firm as others fall: financials.
Travelers Companies Inc (NYSE:TRV) is among the leading Dow stocks, up 0.37%. The insurance company has been a favorite on the Street for quite a while and continues to rise during 2013. The stock began trading ex-dividend a week ago, and since then there haven’t been any notable events or headlines to keep it headed north — just continued investor confidence.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) sits just above breakeven. While investors wait for tomorrow’s release of the Fed’s CCAR results, most banks wait on pins and needles to see how the market will react. Though JPMorgan went into this year’s Fed stress tests with a higher Tier 1 capital ratio, the stress scenarios reduced it to match the prior year’s results, sending mixed signals to investors. Unlike Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C) , which rose 3% following its stress test results last week, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) hasn’t fared so well, but if this year does match last, tomorrow’s results may catapult its stock higher. In 2012, the bank announced that it would raise its dividend and initiate a $15 billion buyback program — something 2013 investors would be keen to see again.