Financial Earnings Fail to Ignite Rally

Stocks are collectively lower today despite upbeat fourth-quarter earnings figures from some of the nation's largest financial companies, including JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) . At roughly halfway through the trading day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is lower by 33 points, or 0.24%.

As intimated, the biggest news today concerns fourth-quarter and 2012 full-year earnings figures from two of the most venerable Wall Street firms.

For its part, JPMorgan, the nation's largest bank by assets, reported a staggering 53% increase in profit over the same quarter in 2011. Many investors were nevertheless more interested in hearing about further fallout from the firm's London Whale scandal, which led to more than $6 billion in trading losses earlier in the year. Besides igniting a shake-up in the executive suite, the debacle has also cost CEO Jamie Dimon billions of dollars in lost compensation.

With respect to Goldman, today's earnings release has caused many to proclaim that the investment bank is back -- that is, making money hand over fist in its trading department just like the good ol' days. Fourth-quarter profit at the company grew nearly threefold to $2.89 billion from just over $1 billion in the same period of 2011. Along with Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS  ) , moreover, the firm also announced that it's entered into a settlement with financial regulators related to faulty mortgage foreclosure practices dating back to the financial crisis. Of the $557 million included in the settlement, Goldman's share includes $135 million in cash plus $195 million in foreclosure relief. Morgan Stanley will pay $97 million in cash and offer up $130 million in "other relief."

Beyond news impacting financial stocks, the worst-performing component on the Dow today is Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) . The massive aerospace company has come under attack lately, as problems with its new 787 Dreamliner continue to mount. Following an emergency landing by a Japanese carrier yesterday, the East Asian country's airlines banned their use pending review. Shares in Boeing are down by more than 3% on the news.

While earnings season started out on a positive note, it appears to have lost momentum. For the individual investor, however, it's important to remember that daily and/or quarterly fluctuations are much less important to a portfolio than the long-term trends.

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