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Stock Market Today: Bank of America’s $12 Billion Penalty and Hertz’s Big Mistake

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has gained 47 points in pre-market trading, suggesting a positive start for the stock market today. However, investors can expect plenty of volatility ahead as Wall Street digests this morning's jobs report from the Department of Labor.

The U.S. economy added 217,000 jobs in May, almost exactly what economists were expecting. The unemployment rate held steady at 6.3%. With revisions for March and April dropping employment by only 6,000, today's report means the economy has officially broken into positive jobs territory for the first time since the recession (although the population has grown a lot since then).

Meanwhile, news is breaking on Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) and Hertz (NYSE: HTZ  ) stocks, which should both see heavy trading today in today's session.

Bank of America is on the hook for "at least" $12 billion in legal payments to settle multiple government investigations into its past mortgage practices, according to a report today in The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper cited inside sources who said BofA may even have to pay "billions more" than that figure as its negotiations with the Justice Department are just heating up. That fact makes it likely the bank will pay more in legal penalties than its total net income in 2013, and also more than the record $13 billion that JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) paid last year for similar issues. Still, investors might be relieved by this news for two reasons. First, a settlement would resolve most of the company's legal obligations from the pre-financial-crisis days. Second, any deal would take the prospect of a long civil lawsuit by the Justice Department off the table. Bank of America's stock was up 0.3% in pre-market trading.

Hertz shares were lower by nearly 11% in pre-market trading after the car-rental company said it would delay the release of its first-quarter earnings report originally slated for next week. In preparing those quarterly results, Hertz found several "material" accounting errors that will force it to restate its financial statements for fiscal 2011 and to correct statements for 2012 and 2013 -- although a full restatement for those years is not out of the question.  The company said it plans to file its first-quarter results "as soon as practicable" and at the same time file an amendment to 2013's annual report. In the meantime, investors will be left wondering just how much they can trust the company's financial reporting over the past three years. 

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Demitrios Kalogeropoulos

Demitrios covers consumer goods and media companies for, as well as broader moves in the economy.

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9/2/2015 4:36 PM
^DJI $16351.38 Up +293.03 +1.82%
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Bank of America CAPS Rating: ****
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JPM $62.57 Up +1.12 +1.82%
JPMorgan Chase & C… CAPS Rating: ****