Dow Begins to Recover as Investors Chew on Economic Data

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Things have been up-and-down for the Dow Jones Industrial Average today, as jobs and housing data washed over investors this morning, sending the Dow into a tizzy. With the overall picture looking better for the economy, worries about an early Federal Reserve taper of its current quantitative easing program seemed to be fading into the background, at least for a while. This may be due to Washington's slow crawl toward a deal on the federal budget.

The first announcement of the day, the Mortgage Bankers Association report on the pace of mortgage applications, wasn't especially good. For the fifth week in a row, applications dropped - with the lucrative refinancing business so loved by banks leading the way. The index now sits at its lowest point since early September.

Next came the ADP National Employment Report, showing a surprising uptick in private-sector jobs for November. The 215,000 new nonfarm jobs blew past expectations of 185,000, and showed a huge gain on last month's report of 130,000. Last November saw the creation of 276,000 new jobs, however, clearly showing that the economy isn't out of the woods just yet.

New home sales rose in October, as the Census Bureau reported 444,000 single-family units sold that month, a nice jump over September's 354,000, and higher than the expected 429,000.

Also out by mid-morning was the Institute for Supply Management report for November, showing an index value of 53.9% versus the predicted 55.5%, and down from October's 55.4%. The report noted that the economy is still expanding, albeit a bit more slowly.

More banking fines
With all that data out of the way, the Dow began a slow recovery as the noon hour approached. JPMorgan Chase , however, was up more than 0.7% -- despite news of yet another fine for naughty behavior.

This time, the regulators are reaching into banks' pockets from across the pond, as the European Union announced a fine of 1.7 billion euros, or $2.3 billion, levied on six banks. Both JPMorgan and Citigroup have been hit with penalties for manipulations tied to lending benchmarks Libor and Euribor, in the largest penalty handed down to date in rate-tampering probes.

JPMorgan received a fine of nearly 80 million euros for shenanigans involving Libor, but was prepared to fight the Euribor charges. Citigroup, which did not bow out of the Euribor settlement, was assessed a 70 million euro penalty.

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