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After closing yesterday with gains for the first time this week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is having a hard time holding on to the positive momentum. Just before 11:30 a.m. EDT, the index is down 57 points, over a third of yesterday's gains lost. With only two days of trading left before the next Federal Open Markets Committee meeting, investors need something to boost their confidence instead of the disappointing economic news they received this morning. Bank investors are also reeling as news of another scandal hit the Street.
All for naught
The sharp 1% rally yesterday has all but faded as investors prepare to enter the weekend. Though producer price data showed a 0.5% rise last month, beating estimates of a 0.1% increase, other economic data released this morning tamped out the positive news. Industrial output was flat in May, which missed estimates of a 0.2% rise. More troubling perhaps is the drop in consumer sentiment for June, which dropped from May's reading -- the highest point in the past six years.
All of this information continues a trend of conflicting signals, giving no real sense of how the economic recovery is progressing for investors. With the FOMC meeting on Tuesday a pivotal moment for the markets, any indication of how the Fed will approach changes to the current rate of stimulus would be welcomed on the Street. But for long-term investors, the recent frenzy over tapering down stimulus shouldn't be getting you riled up. Though the transition period will be a volatile one, the end result will be better market opportunities.
Banks in trouble again
Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) and JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM ) are among the Dow's top laggards this morning following news from Singapore that the banks were involved in a new benchmark-rates-rigging scandal. The banks were mentioned in a list of 20 banks, which also included Citigroup (NYSE: C ) , that participated in attempts to rig the Singapore Interbank Offer Rate, swap offer rates, and currency benchmark rates.
Since last year's LIBOR scandal, many international regulators have been taking a closer look at how the rates are being set, leading to more allegations of rigging. Singapore is working to change how rates are set in the wake of this newest problem, and will list rate rigging as a criminal offense going forward. For now, the Monetary Authority of Singapore has ordered the banks to post $9.6 billion in penalties as it continues its investigation. No word on how much of the total amount will be attributed to each bank, however.
For Bank of America investors, this is simply another roadblock for the bank's progress, but it may be the straw that breaks the camel's back. With the bank arguing to keep a $60 billion price tag off its books, this new (pricey) scandal may lead investors away from the bank. If it can't move away from the costly legal and regulatory problems that have plagued its recovery, the bank will not provide the best returns for its shareholders.
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