AmEx Platinum Loses Cachet; GE Begins U.S. Loan Business Sale: Finance Winners and Losers

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- While the first Friday of the month is usually a big day in the finance world, many people may be making their #NFPGuesses -- guesses on growth in non-farm payrolls, for the uninitiated -- from home instead of from their cubicle.

The Chartered Financial Analyst CFA exam is on Saturday, which means that many aspiring rainmakers may be taking Friday off to sharpen their No. 2 pencils and make sure their HP-12C calculator has back-up batteries.

A record number of people are registered to sit for one of the exam's three levels. On Saturday, 159,889 have chosen to spend six hours of their Saturday in a tightly proctored room. 

If past performance is indicative of future results, many of the test-takers may find their efforts insufficient. The tests are notoriously difficult, though the likelihood of passing increases with each level. The pass rates over the last 10 years are as follows: Level I, 39%; Level II, 44%; and Level III, 53%.


American Express (AXP) may no longer be the platinum card of choice, according to Nomura Holdings Inc. The credit card issuer is relying on its quality customer service and its history of being an elite brand, but the highest-value rewards cards are offered by Visa (V) and MasterCard (MA) card issuers JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Capital One (COF), Nomura said in a note to clients.

However, an AmEx spokeswoman told Bloomberg the value of its cards lies in the brand's partnerships with hotels and airlines.

"The report is focused narrowly on rewards, and this is not the only way in which consumers evaluate products," Crosta said in an e-mailed statement. "Customers evaluate products across multiple dimensions, including rewards, benefits and services."

American Express stock closed down $1.24 to $79.36.


Although General Electric's (GE) sale of $20 billion in assets from its financing arm comes as no surprise, the process was somewhat formalized on Thursday. Sources told Bloomberg the company has put almost all of its U.S. commercial loan business on the market.

The company announced in April that it was looking to sell most of its GE Capital assets to focus more on its industrial and manufacturing business. Running a large financial operation following the financial crisis of 2008-09 became too cumbersome for General Electric: The company was deemed a systemically important financial institution (SIFI) which imposed constraints on how it could run its core business. General Electric plans to shed the SIFI designation as it completes the sale of its GE Capital assets.

General Electric stock closed down 25 cents to $27.28.


Good news: Banks might be more willing to grant home-equity loans to consumers. Bad news: If you file bankruptcy after getting a home-equity loan, the banks can still collect payment.

Actually, it's not clear if this is a true good news/bad news scenario. Either way, the Supreme Court ruled in Bank of America's (BAC) favor on Monday by overturning a federal appeals court decision that canceled a home-equity mortgage on an underwater property in Florida, Bloomberg reported.

This decision may make lenders more willing to approve home-equity loans as there are some assurances that they can get their money back. Meanwhile borrowers are apparently eager to tap into their homes to cover things like renovations, college and cars. According to Equifax Inc., home-equity loan originations are at their fastest pace in seven years, or since 2008.

Sounds a little familiar, doesn't it?

Bank of America stock closed down 14 cents to $16.79.

More from Investing

Don't Panic! The Risk of a Recession This Year Is Low

Don't Panic! The Risk of a Recession This Year Is Low

Even Standing Desk Company Varidesk Is Watching How the Trump Tariffs Play Out

Even Standing Desk Company Varidesk Is Watching How the Trump Tariffs Play Out

LifePoint Surges 40% on Report of Acquisition Talks

LifePoint Surges 40% on Report of Acquisition Talks

Honeywell Gains Most in More Than Two Years on Growth Prospects

Honeywell Gains Most in More Than Two Years on Growth Prospects

General Electric CFO to TheStreet: We Will Discuss 2019 Plans Later This Year

General Electric CFO to TheStreet: We Will Discuss 2019 Plans Later This Year