Dow Slips Below Historic High, JPMorgan Chase Shines

Following a spectacular rise above16,000 on Monday, the Dow Jones IndustrialAverage has dueled with that level today, settling a few points under the magic number shortly after noon. A speech yesterday at Queens College by New York Federal Reserve chief William Dudley, in which he expressed hope in the economic recovery, may have caused some upset in markets as taper worries resurface.

Also on tap this evening is Fed Chair Ben Bernanke's speech to the National Economists Club, as well as tomorrow's release of the Federal Open Market Committee minutes from its October meeting. For analysts and investors looking for clues regarding the end of quantitative easing, there will soon be plenty of new information available to peruse for any signs of the Fed's intentions.

Finally, banks get some good press
Both JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs are both up about 1% so far today, as the nation's biggest banks bask in some positive coverage from the media.

JPMorgan Chase and its investors must be sighing with relief, following the announcement that the bank and U.S. regulators have finally reached a settlement for $13 billion. The deal puts paid to a slew of legal issues for the bank, all of which stemmed from toxic mortgage-backed securities sold prior to the financial crisis. The settlement includes $4 billion in homeowner relief, reported to have been a major sticking point between the parties.

Big banks are looking like the good guys today, Reuters reported that many institutions, including JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, spent time and money preparing for a government debt default -- with JPMorgan even planning to underwrite customers' Social Security benefits if the need arose.

In other news, JPMorgan has withdrawn from a group of banks working on a Hong Kong listing, following U.S. regulators investigation of JPMorgan's hiring practices in China, perhaps in the hope of avoiding even more trouble.

Goldman Sachs may be looking to sell its network of aluminum warehouses, though the bank hasn't publicly announced that intention. Goldman received tons of scrutiny after a New York Times expose last summer, which alleged that the bank deliberately drove up the price of aluminum by moving its stash of precious metal around in order to create delays and price hikes. Though nothing is official yet, the bank has received some interest in the warehouses, and a sale might remove a big problem from Goldman's shoulders, as well.

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