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JPMorgan Profit Down 76%; U.S. Foreclosures up 81% in 2008; U.S. Crude Falls 10%; Incoming SEC Chief Touts Investor Protection; Apple Without its Core; BofA Plunge; Auto Execs Uncertain
- Fourth quarter profit dived 76% for JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), as the financial crisis forced the bank to write down $2.9 billion in assets and increase its reserves, Bloomberg reported. The second-largest U.S. bank by assets posted a net income of $702 million, or 7 cents a share, compared with $2.97 billion, or 86 cents a share, the year earlier.
- One in every 54 U.S. households received a foreclosure filing in 2008, an 81% annual increase and a 17% increase from November to December, Reuters reported, citing a report from RealtyTrac. Almost 3.2 million filings were served, a stat that includes notices of default, auction sale and repossession.
- U.S. crude fell $3.74 to $33.54 a barrel Thursday afternoon, more than a 10% tumble on expectations that demand will continue to fall. "We have gotten more dire economic news and the notion is that 2009 will not result in any significant turnaround, with sentiment mounting that may happen in 2010 instead," Jim Wyckoff, independent energy analyst in Cedar Falls, Iowa, told Reuters.
- Incoming Securities and Exchange Commission chief and veteran regulator Mary Schapiro told the Senate Banking Committee that her tenure would "have a laser-like focus on fraud and investor protection," Reuters reported. "With investor confidence shaken, it is imperative that the SEC be given the resources and the support it needs to investigate and go after those who cut corners, cheat investors and break the law," she said.
- Apple Inc. (AAPL) Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs said is taking a five-month leave of absence after discovering that his health problems are "more complex" than he thought last week. Doctors say he may require surgery to remove his pancreas.
- Bank of America Corp. (BAC) stock tumbled more than 18% yesterday (Thursday) after The Wall Street Journal reported the U.S. Treasury Department used money from its Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to assist the bank in its takeover of Merrill Lynch. Some reports have indicated that that the firm will need more government funds just to stay afloat.
- Global auto executives have become increasingly pessimistic about the prospects for their business, and only 15% expect profits to increase in the next five years, according to a new survey by . The survey of 200 auto executives from around the world found that 24% are predicting profit declines and another 46% say market is too volatile to even predict a bottom line. "Only 12 months ago, companies were beginning to express a cautious optimism after several years of challenge," the . "Today, much of that optimism has been deferred, if not abandoned. In established markets, sales are falling, investments are being reviewed, and some very large auto companies are close to insolvency."