* Economists said the risk of a U.S. recession in the next two years has increased to 40% from November's median of 35%, according to a Reuters poll. The economists also expect the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates this month but will only raise rates twice in 2019.
* A Bloomberg survey also showed that economists expect an increase in interest rates in December, but a slowdown in the pace of hikes in 2019 due to mounting risks to the U.S. economy.
* The Federal Housing Finance Agency is seeking public feedback on a proposed rule on the validation and approval of third-party credit score models used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
* As the leveraged loans market rapidly weakens, Wall Street banks are selling leveraged loans at a discount and offering terms that are less advantageous to borrowers, Financial Times reports.
* Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Citigroup were among those that invested $17.5 million in risk management startup AccessFintech, Reuters reports.
* Morgan Stanley is closing its equities and currency sales and trading desk in Moscow, sources told Bloomberg News. The bank will move some of its employees to London, while some jobs will be eliminated.
* BNY Mellon opted to extend its lease instead of moving to a new London headquarters due partly to uncertainty surrounding Brexit, sources told FT.
* Salisbury, Md.-based Delmar Bancorp and Fredericksburg, Va.-based Virginia Partners Bank are merging in a deal valued at approximately $55.1 million.
* In relation to their merger, WSFS Financial and Beneficial Bancorp are planning to sell five locations and consolidate 25% of the combined bank's retail banking offices.
* The states of New York and California have approved insurance company Cigna's pending $67 billion acquisition of pharmacy benefit management company Express Scripts.
* In Canada, asset manager CI Financial agreed to acquire a majority stake in WealthBar Financial Services, an online wealth management and financial planning platform.
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