The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) tumbled late yesterday following the release of minutes from last month's Federal Open Market Committee meeting. However, the sky has cleared today, with the index up more than 90 points just after noon EST. Big banks Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) are booming, despite some revelations of trading misjudgments by Goldman.
Worries about a year-end tapering of the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing program have faded into the background today, as the FOMC minutes indicated that tapering would begin only if warranted by economic indicators. Although a taper could occur early next year, the market seems content that nothing will happen until that time.
Earlier today, the Senate Banking Committee approved the nomination of Janet Yellen for the position of Federal Reserve chair, taking more uncertainty off the table.
Economic itinerary full this morning
Initial jobless claims fell by 21,000 for the week ending Nov. 16, for a total of 323,000 claims filed -- 33,000 fewer than the market expected. The Purchasing Managers Index for November was reported to be the highest in eight months, at 54.3, an impressive rebound from October's dismal 51.8.
In a big plus for housing, Freddie Mac noted that 30-year mortgage rates dipped to 4.22% for the week ending Nov. 21, compared to the prior week's 4.35%. For 15-year loans, rates fell to 3.27% from the previous week's 3.31%.
In less uplifting news, the Philadelphia Fed announced that its Business Outlook Survey suffered from depression in November, as the index dropped from a comparatively sunny 19.8 in October to this month's reading of 6.5.
Bloomberg's Consumer Comfort Index declined just a bit this week, to minus 34.6 from last week's minus 33.9. Analysts feel the effects of the government shutdown are finally wearing off, and that consumers may open their pocketbooks a little more readily this holiday shopping season.
Big banks shiny, despite missteps
Goldman Sachs remains firmly in the green this morning, even though the bank revealed in regulatory filings that the source of its big third-quarter trading revenue dip was due to its emerging markets positions. The bank had expected the Federal Reserve to commence with the taper; when it did not, those positions took a beating -- resulting in a $1.3 billion fixed-income revenue number that represented the lowest for the firm since the financial crisis.
JPMorgan Chase is up by more than 1.6% shortly before noon, as analysts give the nod to its $13 billion settlement with U.S. regulators. The amount of the settlement makes the government look good, and JPMorgan may have gotten away cheap -- considering that estimates of the value of mortgages sold by the bank and its crisis-era acquisitions topped $1 trillion.
And, with both Attorney General Eric Holder and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman saying that other banks will be facing the same treatment, JPMorgan Chase's investors are likely breathing a big sigh of relief.