The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is just above 16,000 in late-afternoon trading amid rumors that big banks like Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) may see a postponement of onerous financial reform rules that were set to go into effect in mid-2014.
Economic news is sparse today, but the National Association of Home Builders released its NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index data, showing builder confidence essentially unchanged from October to November. The index value stayed at 54, which, at higher than 50, is considered to reflect optimism about the housing market among homebuilders. The release noted that consumer confidence has suffered from economic and political uncertainty, which may be tainting the index.
Big banks win another reprieve
JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs are flying high as the Financial Times reports that implementation of portions of the Volker Rule -- part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill -- may be postponed again. Currently set to go into effect next July, the rule would abolish proprietary trading, in which banks use their own capital while executing trades.
The Federal Reserve may put off the implementation until July 2015 in order to fine-tune the legislation and allow banks more time to comply. If the postponement is implemented, banks will still be required to dissolve their proprietary-trading desks by July of next year.
Settlement news may be making the two banks' investors breathe easier as well. Hearings in Manhattan regarding a settlement between Bank of America and a group of institutional investors -- of which Goldman Sachs is one -- appear to be winding down, which means settlement money may soon be flowing. In that case, a judge will decide whether the $8.5 billion amount agreed upon in 2011 will stick or the investors and Bank of America will have to renegotiate the settlement regarding the pre-crisis sale of toxic mortgage securities. Most of the investor groups want the settlement approved, with insurance giant AIG playing the role of lone dissenter.
JPMorgan Chase investors seem happy with the news of the bank's $4.5 billion settlement with investors in its own mortgage-backed securities sale fiasco, which was announced late last week. Though separate from the pending $13 billion settlement that JPMorgan is currently negotiating with U.S. regulators, investors may feel that the end of the costly legal quagmire in which the bank has been stuck lately may finally be coming to an end.