Fitch downgrades JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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By The Associated Press, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Fitch Ratings downgraded its assessment of America's biggest bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co., on Friday.

The rating agency's move comes a day after JPMorgan disclosed a surprise $2 billion trading loss in a portfolio designed to hedge against risks the company takes with its own money.

Fitch said the size of the loss is manageable but the risk it brings is not. The magnitude of the loss and JPMorgan's hedging position imply a lack of liquidity. The loss also raises questions about its practices, oversights and other key issues, according to the rating agency.

Fitch said JPMorgan's risk to its reputation and governance no longer merit an "AA-" rating and lowered its long-term issuer default rating one notch to "A+", which remains in investment-grade territory. It also lowered a number of other ratings on the New York company and placed it on review for possible future downgrades.

At its current "A+" rating though, JPMorgan remains among the elite.

Fitch said that the company is the dominant leader in the U.S. with a growing international business. It also has a sufficient cushion to absorb any unlikely losses. But the complexity of its operations makes it difficult to fully assess the bank's exposure to risk, and the long-term implications for its reputation remain to be seen.

As a result, Fitch believes JPMorgan's ratings remain at risk for downgrade until its governance practices, appetite, oversight and reputational impact can be more fully examined.

JPMorgan's shares fell more than 9 percent, or $3.78, to close at $36.96 Friday, and its blunder sent shares of many financial companies down for the day. The stock shed another 21 cents in after-hours trading, to $36.75.

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