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Jobless Claims Send the Dow Higher Again: JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Bank of America (BAC)

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Based on the strength of today’s unemployment claims report, the Dow Jones Industrial Average started off strong and held a steady line for the day’s session, finishing up 0.6%, or 84 points, to close at 14,539. It was the first time the Dow broke 14,500, and the blue chips’ tenth consecutive day of gains. The S&P 500, meanwhile, closed just two points away from its all-time closing high, finishing at 1,563, up 0.6% or nine points. Trading was light, as it has been all week, on relatively little news.

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC)

Initial unemployment claims continued to decline, falling to 332,000 last week, significantly below economist expectations of 350,000. The four-week moving average, generally seen as a more accurate indicator of the job market, fell to 346,750, its lowest level in five years, indicating the labor market and the overall economy are continuing to improve.

After gaining 1.7% during the day, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) shares were off 2% after hours after a Senate probe revealed that the banking giant was at fault in the so-called “London whale” that led to a $6.2 billion loss. The Senate subcommittee said that executives at JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) ignored growing risks, and covered up losses from shareholders and government oversight. Carl Levin, the chairman of the subcommittee, said the bank made “many, many failures,” some of which were “serious and indeed egregious.”

Separately, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) said it would cut its buyback plan in half, to $6 billion over the next 12 months, and raise its quarterly dividend from $0.30 to $0.38, after the Federal Reserve released its decisions on the big banks’ plans to return capital. The Fed cited “weaknesses” in JPMorgan’s plan, and requested resubmission by the end of the third quarter.

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