JPMorgan's Alabama Headache

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An hour and a half into trading, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) is trading down 0.11% after opening slightly up. All of the Big Four banks and the markets are on a rollercoaster today as a mixed-message labor report keeps investors uneasy, and JPMorgan investors in particular face bad news out of Alabama.

First, the confusing news
The Labor Department is reporting that initial jobless claims were down by 11,000 for the week ending June 1. This puts total jobless claims for said week at 346,000, not far off from forecasts of 345,000. That's good. But the four-week moving average showed that jobless claims increased for the week: a mixed message if there ever was one.

In addition, The New York Times is reporting that JPMorgan stands to lose up to $1.6 billion in a deal to sort out the bankruptcy of Jefferson County, Alabama: "$842 million on the $1.22 billion of sewer debt that [JPMorgan] holds ... on top of $647 million [the bank] forgave in termination fees on derivatives contracts with the county." 

A stenchy deal is better than no deal
Regarding the Jefferson County bankruptcy, at least it's not another London Whale. The damage seems to be contained to $1.6 billion, and some of this may have already been accounted for. One bit of good news about this: In agreeing to the deal, JPMorgan is avoiding a lawsuit by Jefferson county, which could have cost the superbank even more.

Ever since the drama surrounding Jamie Dimon being stripped of his title as chairman ended more than two weeks ago, there's been a real dearth of news about JPMorgan Chase -- good or bad. Something had to happen again at some point. It is the biggest bank in the country, after all. While this news isn't good, it could have been worse.

As for the mixed economic data, investors may feel a bit of unease, but indices are still being pushed to record highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is flirting with 15,000, and the S&P 500 is up over 1600. Bond yields are rising, but only from record lows, and it had to happen sometime. And while the eurozone languishes in recession, the U.S. economy is growing at a reasonable clip.

More than anything else today, JPMorgan seems to riding the general market and sector current -- let's call it bullish uneasiness -- and that's typically what drives the day-to-day, week-to-week, and even month-to-month movements in any stock. However, here at The Motley Fool, we suggest taking a long-term view of your investments. Tune out the market noise, and tune into the fundamentals of the companies you're invested: Your portfolio will thank you, even if your broker won't. 

Looking for in-depth analysis on JPMorgan?
Check out a new Motley Fool report on the superbank, written by Ilan Moscovitz--The Motley Fool's senior banking analyst and JPMorgan Chase specialist. You'll learn where the key opportunities for the superbank lie, where its core growth will come from, and the potential business risks. You'll also get an analysis of its leadership team. And with quarterly updates included, this might quite literally be the last JPMorgan investment research you'll ever need. For immediate access click here now.

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9/29/2016 4:00 PM
JPM $65.65 Down -1.06 -1.59%
JPMorgan Chase CAPS Rating: ****