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Midday Thursday: Simmons First drops more than 6% after deal news

Bank and thrift stocks bounced back from Wednesday's losses, along with the broader market, in morning trading Thursday, Dec. 15, the day after the Federal Reserve's decision to raise rates, as well as some new housing data.

The SNL U.S. Bank Index grew 1.86% to 539.42, and the SNL U.S. Thrift Index expanded 1.07% to 973.05, around noon. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.71% to 19,933.34, the S&P 500 hiked 0.71% to 2,269.30 and the Nasdaq composite index increased 0.79% to 5,479.40.

In economic news, the week ended Dec. 10 saw a decrease of 4,000 in unemployment insurance claims, with the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims hitting 254,000, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The previous week's unrevised level was 258,000, while the four-week moving average was 257,750, compared to the previous period's unrevised average of 252,500.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index reached its highest reading since July 2005 as builder confidence in the U.S. jumped in December. The HMI for newly built single-family homes increased seven points to a level of 70, after remaining unchanged in the previous month.

Freddie Mac's latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed that average fixed mortgage rates moved higher for the seventh consecutive week. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 4.16% with an average 0.5 point for the week ending Dec. 15, an increase from last week when it averaged 4.13%.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage this week averaged 3.37% with an average 0.5 point, slightly up from last week when it averaged 3.36%.

The nation's largest banks were also trading higher, JPMorgan Chase & Co. gained 1.84% to $86.29, Bank of America Corp. was up 2.82% to $23.30, Citigroup Inc. increased 1.75% to $60.49, and Wells Fargo & Co. added 2.65% to $56.15.

Citigroup Inc. has struck an agreement with PayPal Holdings Inc. to allow Citi cardmembers to use PayPal for online, in-app or in store purchases in 2017.

On the M&A front, Pine Bluff, Ark.-based Simmons First National Corp. is acquiring all the outstanding common stock of Stillwater, Okla.-based Southwest Bancorp Inc. in a deal valued at roughly $564.4 million. Simmons First's stock dropped 6.10% to $60.80 around midday, and Southwest Bancorp's stock jumped 18.49% to $28.20.

Veritex Holdings Inc. jumped 6.57% to $24.34. The company recently agreed to buy Sovereign Bancshares Inc. and unit Sovereign Bank in a stock-and-cash deal. The Dallas-based company also priced an underwritten public offering of 3,865,000 common shares at $22.50 per share, for gross proceeds of approximately $87.0 million.

In other banking news, Fishers, Ind.-based First Internet Bancorp priced an offering of 945,000 of its common shares at $26.50 apiece. Net proceeds of approximately $23.4 million will be used for general corporate purposes. The company shares went up 3.94% to $29.00.

Among notable movers, People's Utah Bancorp jumped 5.58% to $25.44, and Southern First Bancshares Inc. gained 6.15% to $34.50. Meanwhile, First NBC Bank Holding Co. continued to fall and declined 10.76% to $6.43 around midday, after losing 25.00% in the Wednesday session.

In the thrift space, New York Community Bancorp Inc. added 1.12% to $17.05, and BofI Holding Inc. advanced 2.60% to $27.59.

Market prices and index values are current as of the time of publication and are subject to change.