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Credit card battle intensifies

Shares of New York City-based American Express have been trending downward, as investors reacted to a string of disappointing financial developments. The bad news began last  week, when the company disclosed it would end its lucrative co-branding relationship with Costco Wholesale as of March 31, 2016. The agreement has been in place for 16

A similar American Express agreement with JetBlue Airways similarly is expected to end after 10 years, Bloomberg News reported. And on Thursday, a Brooklyn federal judge ruled that American Express’ policy of barring merchants that accept the company’s credit cards from encouraging customers from using those of lower-fee competitors.

So it’s little surprise that shares of American Express, trading at $79.16 around noon on Friday, were well off the five-year high of $96.24 they reached on July 1 just last year. Sir Isaac Newton’s law that for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction in this case may apply in the credit card financial arena as well as in physics.

MasterCard shares touched an intraday high of $89.92 on Friday, their highest level ever, according to market data compiled by FactSet. Visa shares hit a five-year high of $272.75 the day after the American Express-Costco announcement. They were slightly lower at $269.59 in midday trading Friday.