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Obama Speech Fails to Boost the Dow as Emerging Markets Fears Rise

By Amanda Alix – Jan 29, 2014 at 12:02PM

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The Dow is tanking this morning on fears of a global currency crisis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -0.61%) has lost 84 points as of noon EST. Possibly weighing on investors' minds is the winding down of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting, which may deliver another round of tapering of quantitative easing. Also causing problems is the concern regarding a global currency crisis, as Turkey's lira tanks this morning despite a big 4.25% boost in Turkish interest rates yesterday.

President Barack Obama's State of the Union address last night probably isn't helping things. Obama's speech was expectedly assertive, basically telling legislators that, while he is still willing to work with them, he won't hesitate to move his own agenda forward if they try to stymie his plans for the economy. The prospect of more haggling in Washington is likely not what markets wanted to hear.

In other disheartening news, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its weekly survey revealed a 0.2% drop in mortgage applications last week from the week before.

JPMorgan Chase close to sale of commodities unit
JPMorgan Chase 
(JPM -0.70%) is reportedly on tap to sell its commodities section, valued at $2 billion. The bank has had the unit on the block for some time, as it tries to shed segments that continually invite regulators' scrutiny. Several entities have submitted bids for the business, including the Blackstone Group, and JPMorgan will request more information from all bidders in order to decide which will ultimately prevail. According to Bloomberg, a decision could be made as early as this week.

JPMorgan is taking steps to avoid other risky ventures as well. The bank has been shedding customers like crazy over the past year, declining to do business with check-cashing entities, as well as individuals with ties to persons convicted of a crime. All this housecleaning hasn't helped the stock so far today, though, and it remains down by approximately 0.29% at noon.

Goldman Sachs (GS 0.19%) has fallen by about the same percentage as its Dow fellow, despite some feel-good news about the bank's involvement in social-impact bond investments. The Boston Globe reported that Goldman, in conjunction with other investors, is backing an $18 million bond to support an effort to reduce recidivism in young men. While the program's ultimate success would pave the way for future socially important investments of its kind, failure will cause the loss of the investors' money -- perhaps not something Goldman investors are very excited about.

Amanda Alix has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Goldman Sachs. The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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