* At a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Financial Stability Oversight Council, or FSOC, is "carefully studying" the increasing trend of nonbank mortgage originations. Mnuchin, who also chairs the FSOC, noted that nonbanks don't have the liquidity to advance on mortgages that the banks had.
* During the hearing, Mnuchin also said the Treasury Department might ask Congress to approve legislation mandating fallback language in connection with banks' transition from the London Interbank Offered Rate to the secured overnight financing rate, or SOFR, American Banker reports.
* In response to a request from Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., to disclose Wells Fargo's progress in identifying and refunding customers allegedly overcharged by using the bank's checking accounts, CEO Charles Scharf said the bank is working with regulators to finalize a remediation plan, American Banker reports. In a Dec. 2 letter, Scharf said the remediation will begin in 2020 but did not provide any details on how much the bank would refund in total.
* Bristol, Pa.-based Fidelity Savings and Loan Association of Bucks County and Philadelphia-based Washington Savings Bank agreed to merge with William Penn Bancorp unit William Penn Bank (MHC).
* In Massachusetts, Cambridge Bancorp, the holding company for Cambridge Trust Co., agreed to acquire Wellesley Bancorp in an all-stock deal.
* Redwood City, Calif.-based digital investing firm Wealthfront plans to launch a debit card, automated bill pay and direct deposit by the end of the first quarter of 2020, CEO Andy Rachleff told American Banker Editor-at-Large Penny Crosman at SourceMedia's In|vest West conference.
* Even as digital-only banks continue to grow, young people, especially those who are 18 to 34 years old, still consider physical banking locations as a prime factor while choosing a new bank, according to a Jefferies retail banking survey, CNBC reports.
* Jefferies Financial Group has hired about 50 employees from CLSA and is poaching about a dozen more professionals, including analysts, salespeople and traders, from CLSA's equity division in India, sources told Bloomberg News. The move comes as Jefferies looks to expand its equities research, sales and trading operations in Asia.
* In a major blow to the prosecution in an Australian criminal cartel case against Citigroup and Deutsche Bank, former JPMorgan Chase markets head Jeff Herbert-Smith testified that the banks never colluded, but that he helped the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission build its case to get immunity, Reuters reports.
* U.S. property and casualty insurers are positioned to slightly improve their underwriting profits both in 2019 and 2020, according to Fitch Ratings.
* California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara ordered a mandatory one-year moratorium on nonrenewals of home insurance for policyholders living near recently declared wildfire disaster areas.
* The Task Force on Artificial Intelligence of the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing entitled, "Robots on Wall Street: The Impact of AI on Capital Markets and Jobs in the Financial Services Industry," at 9:30 a.m. today.
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