American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) released its earnings report for the three months ending September 30 this afternoon, after the bell rang on Wall Street. The firm showed earnings of $1.25 per share for the period on revenues totaling $8.3 billion. On today’s market, the company’s stock traded up and finished the day at $76.14 per share.

American Express

In the run up to the release of this report, analysts studying American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) were looking for earnings of $1.22 per share for the three month period. Revenues in the third quarter were expected to come to $8.2 billion. In the same quarter of 2012, American Express earned $1.09 per share on revenue of $7.9 billion.

American Express consumer metrics

Credit card companies are often used by the market as a proxy for consumer spending in a given period. If credit card companies reveal better-than-expected earnings, it is a sign that the consumer economy is doing well. American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) is the first of the credit firms to report earnings this time around, so the report will be studied by many people who do not own part of the company.

The use of credit card companies as a bellwether for consumer spending can be controversial, because it also leads to increased levels of private debt held by the public. Shares in American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) have been doing extremely well in 2013 on the back of better-than-expected earnings in the first two quarters of the year owed to a sluggish but steady American recovery.

Today’s earnings report will also be studied by the shareholders of American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) competitors Visa Inc (NYSE:V) and Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA). The firm’s results will give valuable insight into consumer spending in the three months through September, and other metrics that affect the credit card industry. Visa Inc (NYSE:V) and Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA) will report earnings on October 30th and 31st respectively.

American Express performance

Shares in American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) have gained more than 32 percent for the year so far, though the firm’s growth rate slowed through the second half of the year on expectations of an interest rate rise.

American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) will host a conference call at 5PM EST to discuss these earnings. Priority discussion topics will include the firm’s outlook through year-end and the company’s sale of its travel division.