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American Express (AXP) - Get Free Report began Friday's session with an ugly earnings-inspired breakdown gap. The stock bounced in the early going but has spent the bulk of the session with a 1% loss. While this is only a slight drop, overhead pressure is building and may prove too heavy for nearby support to hold.

In the near term, American Express investors should keep a close eye on the January lows. A clear break through this key zone could lead to a deep pullback.

On Oct. 20, American Express exploded to the upside following its third-quarter earnings report. The stock surged more than 9% that day, with the help of a big jump in volume. The stock stalled a bit just below the 2016 highs ahead of the election, before beginning a second rally leg on Nov. 9. The stock finished that day at new 2016 highs. Over the next eight weeks, American Express moved steadily higher before running out of steam near $78.

Ahead of earnings, American Express stock remained in a very narrow range just below $78. This churn featured accelerated selling pressure, most notably in Thursday's session, which attracted the heaviest downside trade since mid-September. On Friday, downside volume is once again heavy, giving the action over the last two weeks a rather toppy look.

As next week begins, American Express investors should keep a close eye on the January low near $74.75. A clear break of this level could open up the stock to a deep pullback. The stock does have a layer of support in place near the November high of $73.20, but this area may not hold if selling pressure continues to increase.

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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author was long AXP.