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JPMorgan trading loss could hit $5-billion, report warns

These are stories Report on Business is following Friday, May 18, 2012. Get the top business stories through the day on BlackBerry or iPhone by bookmarking our mobile-friendly webpage.

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How high are JPMorgan's losses? The trading losses at JPMorgan Chase & Co. are weighing on the minds of investors today amid a fresh report that warns they could reach as much as $5-billion (U.S.).

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When the Wall Street giant unveiled the hit, it pegged it at $2-billion, and possibly about $1-billion. But, The Wall Street Journal reports today, it could go much higher.

The news organization takes a fascinating inside look at the trouble - it's well worth reading - but it's that $5-billion number that's raising eyebrows.

"Overnight markets again show diminishing risk appetite and, for once, the catalyst is not European," said Adam Cole of RBC in Europe, citing the effect on currency markets of the Wall Street Journal story.

For his part, chief executive officer James Dimon, suddenly in an unusual position given how well JPMorgan skated through the financial crisis, said he learned a lesson from the debacle.

"The big lesson I learned: Don't get complacent despite a successful track record," Mr. Dimon told the newspaper. "No one or no unit can get a free pass."

Facebook debut Shares of Facebook Inc. got a pop when they finally began trading today, but soon fell back to their IPO price.

Trading was delayed by about 30 minutes, likely because of the huge interest in the stock, The Globe and Mail's Omar El Akkad reports.

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Even if the price change was muted, volume was exceptionally strong, seemingly crashing some trading sites.

Inflation inches up Inflation is creeping up in Canada.

Consumer prices edged up 0.2 per cent in April from March, Statistics Canada said today, bringing the annual inflation rate to 2 per cent, up from 1.9 per cent a month earlier.

The so-called core rate of inflation, which excludes volatile items and helps guide the Bank of Canada's monetary policy, rose to 2.1 per cent, also from 1.9 per cent.

Energy costs were up 1.1 per cent, slower than the 5.5-per-cent rise in March, and food prices up by 2.5 per cent.

All in all, things aren't far off from the Bank of Canada's projections, so there was little in today's report to sway expectations, though the central bank has signalled a hike in rates.

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"From a strictly domestic perspective, this moderate pick-up in inflation moves the yardsticks a bit further down the field towards rate hikes," said deputy chief economist Douglas Porter of BMO Nesbitt Burns.

"Of course, the reality is that the latest flare-up in Europe's debt crisis will overwhelm domestic considerations for the bank. So, given the recent run of solid domestic indicators - jobs, housing, manufacturing and now prices - look for the bank to maintain its tough talk, but not to act on it any time soon."

A Greek exit? Speculation over Greece quitting the euro zone is mounting by the day, though fresh polling suggests voters may be shifting to the pro-bailout camp.

The last election brought a surprise second-place finish for the group that wants to tear up the bailout agreement, and ease off on the austerity front, which led to more jitters in the markets.

"One poll does not, of course, make a trend, but this bears watching as possible evidence that European leaders' ongoing effort to frame the election as a referendum on euro zone membership may be starting to affect the voting intentions of the Greek electorate," said RBC's Mr. Cole.

Separately today, the European Union's trade chief told a newspaper in Belgium that the European Commission and the European Central Bank are working on a contingency plan should Greece be forced to leave the 17-member monetary union.

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About the Author
Report on Business News Editor

Michael Babad is a Report on Business editor and co-author of three business books. He has been with Report on Business for several years, and has also been a reporter and editor at The Toronto Star, The Financial Post and United Press International. His articles have appeared in major newspapers around the world. More

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