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Housing bust still dogs banks

The economy may be healing, but banks are suffering from a housing hangover.

JPMorgan Chase spent $3.2 billion last year to fight lawsuits, almost all of them over poorly written mortgages. That was down from $5.7 billion in 2010, but it made clear that housing still haunts the bank, five years after the bubble burst.

The bank said Friday that it set aside $528 million in the last three months of 2011 to fight lawsuits. It also spent $925 million in the fourth quarter to carry out foreclosures and handle mortgage defaults.

“There’s still a huge drag,” CEO Jamie Dimon said.

The expenses took a bite out of JPMorgan’s quarterly profit, which fell 23 percent from a year earlier, to $3.7 billion, and missed Wall Street expectations.

For the full year, JPMorgan, the nation’s largest bank, posted a record profit of $19 billion, up from $17.4 billion in 2010.

Crowd too big, Apple cancels Beijing sale

Raw eggs splattered and streaked the gleaming windows of Beijing’s Apple store Friday, hurled by angry and frustrated shoppers when the launch of the iPhone 4S was canceled because of fears over the size of the crowd.

The incident highlighted the role of Chinese middlemen who buy up wildly popular iPhones or smuggle them from abroad for resale at a big markup.

Hundreds of customers – including migrant workers hired by scalpers in teams of 20 to 30 – waited overnight in freezing temperatures outside the Apple store in a shopping mall in Beijing’s east side Sanlitun district.

When the store failed to open as scheduled at 7 a.m., the crowd erupted in anger.

A person with a megaphone announced the sale was canceled.

Novartis to cut almost 2,000 U.S. jobs in ’12

Drug giant Novartis will cut 1,960 jobs in the United States this year in anticipation of lower sales for two of its hypertension drugs, the Swiss company said Friday.

Pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG said the cuts will affect 1,630 sales positions in the field and 330 posts at its U.S. headquarters in New Jersey.

The restructuring was necessary partly because of the expiration of its patent for the best-selling hypertension drug Diovan.

Aon headquarters moving to London

Insurance brokerage Aon Corp. plans to move its corporate headquarters from Chicago to London to improve its access to emerging markets and increase its financial flexibility.

Aon said Friday the move will help it take advantage of strategic proximity to Lloyd’s and the London market, which it calls one of the key international hubs of insurance and risk brokerage.

The company already has a big presence in the United Kingdom.

Lions Gate buying studio for ‘Twilight’

Movie and TV studio Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. is buying Summit Entertainment, the maker of the hit “Twilight” series for teens, for $412.5 million in cash and stock.

The deal announced Friday brings together two studios hoping to create a Hollywood powerhouse focused on young adult audiences.

The “Twilight” franchise has grossed more than $2.5 billion worldwide since the first movie blew out of the gates in late 2008 and hordes of fans of the Stephenie Meyer books rushed to theaters.