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Markets: JP Morgan's $US2b loss hits stocks

Stocks on Wall Street fell after JP Morgan Chase fell 9.3% on big trading losses.

The news wiped out earlier gains when a consumer confidence index unexpectedly rose.

JP Morgan Chase said it had lost $US2 billion in the past six weeks on bad derivatives bets. It said it could face an additional $US1 billion in losses in the second quarter as a result of market volatility.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 34.44 points, or 0.3%, to 12,832.82 at the close (8am NZ time). The 1.7% drop since last Friday was the Dow’s second weekly loss.

The S&P 500 index was down 0.3% at 1353.99 and 1.2% down on the week. The Nasdaq Composite made a fractional gain to 2933.82 for a 0.8 weekly loss.

Other markets: Europe mixed, Asia down
In Europe, Spanish stocks fell on disappointment with the government's latest plan to clean up the country's troubled banks.

But other markets ended a choppy session with modest gains.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index rebounded from early losses to rise 0.4% to 251.97, trimming the week's loss to 0.4%.

Spain's IBEX 35 index ended 0.7% at 6995.60 after falling as low as 6790.

London's FTSE 100 index gained 0.6% to 5575.52, Germany's DAX 30 index climbed 1% to 6579.93 and the French CAC 40 fell fractionally to 3129.77.

Asian markets fell, capping a week of losses across the region, partly driven by disappointing China economic data.

Sony shares slumped 6.4% to their lowest level since 1980, despite posting a smaller-than-expected loss for the year ending March 31.

Japan's Nikkei was down 0.6% to 8953.31, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.2% to 4285.10 and Korea's Kospi fell 1.4% to 1917.13.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong dropped 1.3% to 19,964.63, bringing to an end its worst week since September. China’s Shanghai Composite fell 0.6% to 2394.98.

Commodities: Oil, gold down
Crude-oil futures settled lower. Light, sweet crude futures for June delivery fell 1%, or 95USc to end at $US96.13 a barrel in New York and were off 2.4% for the week.

Gold set a fresh 2012 low as investor demand for the US dollar and mild US inflation reduced interest among buyers.

The most actively traded gold contract, for June delivery, fell $US11.50, or 0.7%, to settle at $US1584 an ounce in New York, the lowest settlement since December 30.

Gold fell 3.7% during the week and has retreated in eight of the last 10 trading sessions.

Currencies: US dollar rises on week
The US dollar headed toward a weekly gain – its longest rally since 2008 – after data showed consumer sentiment unexpectedly improved this month.

The euro swung between slight positive and negative territory, buying $US1.2922 from $US1.2936 late on Thursday. It was at ¥103.22, compared with ¥103.40.

The dollar traded at ¥79.88 from ¥79.93. The pound fetched $US1.6071 compared with $US1.6147, while the dollar bought 0.9295 Swiss franc from 0.9285 franc.

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