AmEx Buyback, Morgan Stanley Fined, and UBS Loses Deal -- Finance Winners & Losers

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- American Express (AXP) traded up on Wednesday following news the board approved the company's new stock buyback plan as well as a dividend increase. The buyback plan authorizes the repurchase of up to 150 million shares.  The company announced plans to raise its dividend from 26 cents to 29 cents in March.

Earlier this week, American Express launched its new Plenti loyalty plan program. While American Express offers its own Plenti Credit Card, consumers can access Plenti's benefits through an app without being an American Express cardholder. Once registered, customers can earn points for purchases made at Plenti partners such as Macy's (M), Exxon Mobil  (XOM), and Rite Aid (RAD). Points are redeemable in increments of 1,000 with each thousand representing $10 that can be applied to purchases at Plenti partners.

"It will really be the first time where U.S. consumers, on a single program, can take the rewards they've earned in one industry and take it to another," said Abeer Bhatia, chief executive of US Loyalty at American Express.

American Express stock closed the day up 78 cents to $79.86.


It's been an unlucky week for Morgan Stanley (MS). Finra fined the New York-based investment bank $2 million Wednesday for failing to accurately report its short-interest position in certain securities. The regulatory body also called out the bank for lacking a supervisory system that would prevent such abuses.

"Short interest reporting continues to provide investors with important transparency into the level of short selling in a particular issue," Thomas Gira of FINRA said in a press release. "Accordingly, it is imperative that this information be timely and accurately reported. Similarly, a fundamental requirement for compliance with the short sale rule is that firms properly track their short positions."

On Tuesday, Morgan Stanley made our losers list after the stock took a hit following the bank announcing the sale of its oil storage unit to Castleton Commodities International.

Morgan Stanley stock closed up 6 cents to $37.78.


UBS Group (UBS) is also having a rough week. There is talk the Justice Department is planning to cancel an agreement it entered with UBS in 2012 to not prosecute the bank for its role in the Libor rate rigging scandal. The deal stipulated that the bank would avoid wrong doing for two years.

However UBS, along with four other banks, is also under investigation by the Justice Department for rigging currency markets. Settlements for the currency rigging case are expected to be reached in coming days. A decision by the Justice Department to scrap its deal with UBS over Libor rigging suggests that the department is looking to take a tougher stance on Wall Street malfeasance.

UBS stock closed down 15 cents to $21.07.

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