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The Friday Express: JPMorgan seeks China JV, Stifel Financial buying Mo. bank

* JPMorgan has applied with a Chinese regulator to launch a joint-venture brokerage in the country, in which the bank will have a 51% stake, The Wall Street Journal reports. JPMorgan is also planning to increase the headcount of its China equity research team by over 50% this year, Bloomberg News reports.

* Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice has charged former JPMorgan trader Akshay Aiyer with conspiring to fix currency prices, the Financial Times reports.

* Bank of America, which reiterated its pledge to stop financing companies that manufacture assault-style rifles, suggested that it will likely exit a loan agreement it made with gun maker Remington Outdoor, Reuters reports.

* Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were chosen by Volvo Cars for its IPO this year, sources told Bloomberg.

* Stifel Financial is buying Business Bancshares and unit Business Bank of Saint Louis.

* Public Service CU is acquiring seven stand-alone branches of Co-Op Financial Services in Detroit.

* Activist hedge fund Third Point is considering to form a blank check company that would be used to acquire privately held companies, sources told Reuters.

* A Palladium Equity Partners affiliate agreed to sell broker Pronto Holdco to a unit of insurance brokerage Arthur J. Gallagher, Risk Placement Services.

* Canadian lender ECN Capital will invest $221.2 million in The Kessler Group.

* United Insurance Holdings, through its subsidiaries, entered into reinsurance agreements seeking coverage for catastrophe losses from named or numbered windstorms and earthquakes.

* Insurance company Kingsway Financial Services entered into a letter of intent to sell its nonstandard automobile insurance companies.

* The New York State Office of the Attorney General is asking for public comment on the sale of New York State Catholic Health Plan, which does business as Fidelis Care New York.

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