The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) is still sulky today, down 0.30% at noon EST, after the release of minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's December meeting showed the Fed's continued concern over ultra-low inflation, but offered little information than the markets didn't already know. Investors may be a little sensitive today regarding the economic recovery -- and how it will affect the tapering of quantitative easing -- as they await the release tomorrow of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' unemployment report for December.
The Department of Labor issued its report on weekly jobless claims earlier today, noting a drop of 15,000 in initial applications for last week. The total number of claims was 330,000, in line with the expected 331,000.
Bloomberg's Consumer Comfort Index showed an almost jubilant American consumer greeting 2014, with a print of minus 28.4, compared to the year-ago reading of minus 34.4. More respondents noted an increased interest in shopping, a definite good sign for the economy.
A dull day for financials, too
Big banks are taking a hit today, too, with both JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) down about 0.70% at noon. Nomura Securities initiated coverage on both banks today, giving each a neutral rating due to regulation-induced constraints on fixed-income revenue going forward.
With earnings season in the offing, Bloomberg noted today that the nation's six largest banks will likely take a hit in earnings because of settlements and legal expenses. JPMorgan leads the pack with more than $11 billion of the combined $18 billion put aside by the group in the first three quarters of 2013 to deal with such matters.
In other big-bank news, regulations regarding advisers to the municipal bond market are on their way in an effort to protect states and municipalities from some of the excesses that occurred prior to and during the financial crisis. New rules will require advisers to public officials raising money in the muni bond market to disclose conflicts of interest, as well as ban them from pushing deals that are counter to the interests of those clients.
Included in the list of firms that would be affected by these new regulations are, of course, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs.
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