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Canadian rate-rigging suit rejected; Morgan Stanley merging 2 wealth segments

In litigation news, U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres dismissed a class-action lawsuit filed against several banks — which include Bank of America Corp., Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and National Bank of Canada — alleging that they conspired to rig the Canadian Dealer Offered Rate, or CDOR, Reuters reports. The suit contends that the banks attempted to increase their profits by reducing interest owed to investors on CDOR-based derivatives transactions in the U.S., including swaps and Canadian dollar futures contracts, but Torres said the actions took place in Canada and are not covered under the U.S. anti-racketeering law.

The rivalry between payday lenders Aura and Oportun Financial Corp. took a turn for the worse, American Banker reports. James Gutierrez, CEO of San Francisco-based payday lender Aura, recently filed a lawsuit against Oportun, which he founded in 2005 and worked for until 2012, alleging he was subjected to verbal abuse and racial discrimination. Oportun responded by claiming that Gutierrez was involved in the embezzlement of corporate funds during his tenure and misused his power as CEO, asking company employees to serve as personal chauffeurs and help plan his wedding, according to the report.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, said she found it "outrageous and wholly inappropriate" that Wells Fargo & Co. CEO Timothy Sloan received a bonus of $2 million for 2018, a year in which the bank was fined more than $3 billion for its regulatory offenses. Waters reiterated her call for Sloan's dismissal, saying that "Mr. Sloan shouldn't be getting a bonus, he should be shown the door."

In an interview after taking part in a discussion during the Tulane Corporate Law Institute conference, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton said he is not against direct listings. These listings allow companies to directly place shares on a public exchange and provide shareholders with proper protections, he added.

Also in regulatory news, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. will hold public meetings on April 25 and May 3 to discuss the proposed merger between Winston-Salem, N.C.-based BB&T Corp. and Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks Inc. The meetings will consider the merger's impact on financial stability and competition, along with the two companies' ratings under the Community Reinvestment Act and whether the combination would meet the needs of the community. The regulators also extended the public comment period on the companies' proposed deal to May 3.

In the M&A space, intelligent systems provider Envestnet Inc. is acquiring PIEtech Inc., which creates financial planning applications, for approximately $500 million. The consideration is comprised of $295 million in cash and around 3.185 million Envestnet common shares.

Morgan Stanley is integrating its international wealth management and private wealth management segments, Barron's reports. Ileana Musa and Greg Gatesman will take over as co-heads of international wealth management. The decision follows after international wealth management head Colbert Narcisse left the investment bank to join TIAA as senior managing director and wealth management head.

The Canadian Securities Administrators and Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada published a consultation paper seeking comment on tailoring regulatory requirements for platforms that trade cryptocurrency assets. The paper solicits input on various areas including the custody and verification of assets, price determination and market surveillance. The comment period is open until May 15.

In other parts of the world

Asia Pacific: Hong Kong fines 4 global banks; UBS Australia faces probe over A$1.2B loan

Europe: BBVA spying case fallout; new fine for UBS; Brexit hangs in balance

Middle East & Africa: Dubai payments firm tables London IPO; Standard Bank to cut 1,200 jobs

Now featured on S&P Global Market Intelligence

Elizabeth Warren: BB&T-SunTrust merger creating next too-big-to-fail bank: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said the merger between BB&T and SunTrust is the "first new too-big-to-fail bank since the financial crisis" and criticized the Federal Reserve for allowing widespread consolidation in the U.S. banking industry.

Okla. bank receives industry's 1st prompt corrective action directive of 2019: As of March 8, there were 129 U.S. banks and thrifts operating under severe enforcement actions issued since 2010.

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 0.56% to 29,012.26, and the Nikkei 225 increased 0.77% to 21,450.85.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.56% to 7,225.49, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.90% to 1,046.14.

On the macro front

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey, the industrial production report, the consumer sentiment report, the JOLTS report, the Treasury international capital report and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count report are due out today.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

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