A number of banks disclosed increases in employee wages on the heels of the passage of the Republicans' tax reform legislation, which now awaits President Donald Trump's signature. Wells Fargo & Co. and Fifth Third Bancorp both raised their bank employees' minimum wage to $15 per hour. Meanwhile, Washington Federal Inc. said that it is planning to give a 5% pay hike to employees in good standing and earning less than $100,000 per year, on top of workers' normal merit increase.
In other banking news, JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s online investing tool, JPMorgan Digital Investing, will be offered to some clients in March 2018 and on a wide scale in the middle of that year, Reuters reports. The bank will start testing the robo-adviser on less than 100 employee accounts this week.
As the Chinese economy opens itself further to foreign investment, Bank of America Corp. is working to better position itself in providing services, including securities sales and cash management, to Chinese companies, CEO Brian Moynihan said in an interview on Bloomberg TV. Moynihan added that BofA already employs several hundred in China and has an existing China-focused debt underwriting business.
Wells Fargo is seeking the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's permission to buy platinum and then lease it to a client, sources told Reuters. The application would test a new rule introduced earlier this year that limits banks' exposure to commodity markets.
On the M&A front, San Ramon, Calif.-based Tri-Valley Bank is merging into San Jose, Calif.-based Heritage Bank of Commerce in a deal valued at around $31.6 million.
Boston Private Financial Holdings Inc. is selling its entire ownership interest in Anchor Capital Advisors LLC to the management team of Anchor. Upon closing of the transaction in the first quarter of 2018, Boston Private will receive around $32 million in cash. It will also receive future revenue share payments with a net present value of roughly $15 million, subject to purchase price adjustments.
Asset management firm HPIL Holding is in "advanced talks" to be acquired by RodDoc LLC. HPIL has signed a memorandum of understanding with RodDoc, and the deal could be finalized in January 2018. HPIL also terminated talks over a possible partnership or investment with voice roaming technology firm Voyport.
After growing its assets to $2.5 billion, Boston-based hedge fund Whale Rock Capital Management LLC is no longer accepting new capital, a source told Reuters.
In digital currency news, Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting said that bitcoin currently does not pose a threat to the U.S. banking system, noting that banks had little exposure to the virtual currency based on a recent informal poll the agency conducted, Reuters reports. Asked about fintech charters, Otting echoed predecessor Thomas Curry's belief that a charter for fintech firms is possible. Otting noted, however, that said charter's form, funding and requirements would need to be worked out.
In other parts of the world
Asia Pacific: New Zealand rejects HNA's UDC Finance bid; Thailand maintains policy rate
Europe: EU banks can keep UK ops post-Brexit; job cuts at Deutsche; Sweden holds rate
Middle East & Africa: ANC calls for SARB nationalization; Reserve Bank of Malawi cuts policy rate
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 0.45% to 29,367.06, while the Nikkei 225 was down 0.11% to 22,866.10.
In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.37% to 7,553.33, while the Euronext 100 fell 0.03% to 1,038.96.
On the macro front
The GDP report, the jobless claims report, the Chicago Fed national activity index, the FHFA house price index, the leading indicators report, the EIA natural gas report, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply report are due out today.
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