The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is on a roller-coaster ride this morning, as an outpouring of economic indicators hit the news wires -- much of it good news.
The Mortgage Bankers Association released its latest in the mortgage application arena, showing a decline for the fourth week in a row, though the 0.3% dip is an improvement over the prior week's drop of 2.3%. On the jobs front, the Department of Labor announced that initial jobless claims dropped by 10,000 from the previous week's figure of 326,000. Since markets expected a jump to 330,000, this was definitely a winner.
Consumers responding to Bloomberg's Consumer Comfort Index poll are feeling better about the economy, as the index rose to minus 33.7 from a previous minus 34.6. The reading was the most optimistic for Thanksgiving week in six years. Similar findings were announced for the Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, which noted a reading of 75.1 compared to an expected 73.3 -- and a nice jump from the mid-month figure of 72.
The Chicago Institute for Supply Management released its Business Barometer report, noting a drop from October's heady 65.9 to its current 63. Despite the dip, the report noted that sentiment has stayed well above 60, and that hiring was up for the second month in a row.
More mortgage muddles for big banks?
In yet another sign that the financial crisis is far from over, Standard and Poor's has declared that the nation's biggest banks are not yet out of the woods when it comes to legacy mortgage issues. This isn't the greatest news for Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), two banks that have spent billions settling scores of bad-mortgage claims over the past year or two.
According to S&P, eight of the largest banks could be liable for up to $104 billion more in payouts to settle mortgage-related claims, noting that the wave of new lawsuits -- primarily by U.S. regulators -- will likely continue. While the agency noted that banks have buffers in place to soften the blow, investors should expect profits to suffer.
Bank of America's stock has taken a hit this morning, but JPMorgan is looking spritely, up over 1% as the noon hour approaches.
In other JPMorgan settlement news, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburg is agitating to see the details of the bank's recent $13 billion settlement with U.S. officials, in a bid to strengthen its own case against JPMorgan. The FHLB is alleging that it lost over $1 billion in its own dealings with JPMorgan Chase, and says that the larger settlement doesn't cover its own losses. A Pennsylvania state court has ordered JPMorgan to release the documents, a move the bank is resisting.