Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
Amidst continued fears of a potential federal government shutdown and shaky economic data on home prices, manufacturing activity, and consumer confidence, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) fell 0.4% today. The S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) fell 0.3%.
Last week, House Republicans passed a bill that would fund the government only if President Obama's health-care reform is gutted. The Senate is expected to strip the Obamacare-defunding provision and return a clean bill to the House sometime before the September 30 deadline. Although it's seen as unlikely to work, some Senate Republicans have indicated they might try to filibuster their own bill in order to prevent the Senate from acting.
JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) slipped 2.2%. The bank's legal woes could be getting worse. Just recently it agreed to pay around $1.4 billion to settle investigations stemming from its London Whale trading debacle and possible cover-up, manipulating energy markets, and selling identity theft protection to credit card customers that it never provided.
The New York Times reports that, in addition to lingering investigations into the London Whale events, various mortgage cases, debt collection practices, and hiring children of well-connected Chinese officials, among other things, the Department of Housing and Urban Development suggested to JPMorgan that it could cost $22 billion to settle various investigations into its mortgage practices.
Apparently, breaking the law is starting to become a major, regular business expense for JPMorgan.
As the bank continues to fight various investigations, CEO Jamie Dimon pledged he's making changes to improve compliance.
Verizon (NYSE: VZ) fell 1.5%. Speaking at an investor conference today, CEO Lowell McAdam said that he thinks unlimited data plans, which are used by rivals T-Mobile and Sprint, aren't sustainable because of the increasing use of bandwidth-heavy video.
He also commented on declining device subsidy costs that carriers contribute to new phone purchases to help lock in customers. Verizon has recently been advertising that customers can upgrade their phones for free, which is a bit silly for customers because normally carriers incentivize them to stick around by subsidizing the cost of new phones. So the advertising strategy would be a bit like me promising the bank I won't charge it any hidden fees on home loans. But who knows? Maybe it'll fool some people.
McAdam also said his network is better than competitors'.
In unrelated news, Bloomberg also reported that Verizon's September 11 rush to complete a $49 billion bond offering before last week's Fed announcement could cost the company roughly $6.3 billion in higher interest payments over the life of the loan. Most of Wall Street was also surprised by the Fed decision, however, so it's hard to say that Verizon made a poor bet, even if it was the wrong bet.
Along with the general slump in many financial stocks, Visa (NYSE: V) fell 1.5% today. Visa and Mastercard (NYSE: MA) agreed yesterday with French authorities to cut in half the fees they charge merchants on behalf of banks. In the U.S., the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act also resulted in interchange fee reductions. Most of the impact will be felt by banks rather than card companies.
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