JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs Weigh on the Dow

New Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) component Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) is helping to drag the index down this morning, even though peer JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) is the day's bearer of bad tidings.

It's been a see-saw kind of morning for the Dow so far, as a midmorning plunge was followed by a nice rise that petered out very quickly. With its weighty presence on the index, Goldman Sachs' drop of 1.3% surely isn't helping.

More problems for JPMorgan Chase came to light today, piling on its recent well-publicized legal difficulties. The big bank is down nearly 1%, perhaps saved from a more severe dive by some encouraging news on the mortgage front.

The Mortgage Bankers Association announced a 0.6% dip in its mortgage application index earlier this morning, but noted that the biggest decrease came from refinance requests. Applications for new home loans actually edged up by 0.7% -- good news for mortgage originators like JPMorgan.

More trouble on the horizon
Another legal mess is bubbling up for JPMorgan Chase, as the detritus of long-ago toxic mortgage bond sales keeps rising to the surface. A group of investors, including asset management firm BlackRock, are demanding $5.75 billion from the bank to reimburse them for crummy mortgage-backed securities sold prior to the financial crisis. The parties have been discussing the matter for some time, but the investors may see JPMorgan's current settlement with federal regulators as an opening to procure their own deal, as well.

Not all the news from JPMorgan Chase is bad, however. Bloomberg reports that the bank's commodities business may have a buyer, Brazilian firm Grupo BTG Pactual. The unit, valued at more than $3 billion, would take JPMorgan out of the physical commodities space, another area in which it has run afoul of regulators. The sale will doubtless be greeted by investors as a good thing, though no deal has been struck yet. Unfortunately for the bank, it looks like investors are concentrating on the bad news today, rather than the good.

As for Goldman Sachs, the news that it is hiring a former Citigroup trading executive for its Asia-Pacific arena shouldn't be considered a negative -- unless investors are showing disdain for an expansion of the bank's trading platform following Goldman's big third-quarter trading loss recently.

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