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Midday Wednesday: Stocks down as markets await FOMC meeting outcome

Bank and thrift stocks were down slightly around midday Wednesday, Dec. 14, as investors and bankers await news of a possible interest rate hike.

The Federal Open Market Committee's final meeting for the year ends today, and the FOMC's meeting announcement and forecasts are due out at 2 p.m. ET. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will also hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. ET today.

The SNL U.S. Bank Index decreased 0.57% to 529.47, and the SNL U.S. Thrift Index slid 0.42% to 966.24. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.14% to 19,882.89, the S&P 500 decreased 0.25% to 2,266.07 and the Nasdaq composite index declined 0.15% to 5,455.53.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. slid 0.13% to $84.65, Bank of America Corp. was up 0.60% to $22.75, Citigroup Inc. increased 0.05% to $59.82, and Wells Fargo & Co. declined 2.17% to $54.63.

Regulators said Tuesday that they again rejected Wells Fargo's 2015 "living will" resolution plan after the company failed to "adequately remedy all of its deficiencies."

ConnectOne Bancorp Inc. was down 1.35% to $25.50 around midday. With the possibility of a fourth-quarter loss due to the deterioration of its New York City taxi medallion portfolio, the Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based company launched a common stock offering to support potential actions regarding the portfolio. The company expects to raise up to $38.4 million from the offering.

Renasant Corp., which priced a common stock offering of 1.9 million shares at $41.50 per share, saw its stock trade 4.20% lower to $41.25 around midday today.

On the M&A front, Virginia-based banks Southern National Bancorp of Virginia Inc. and Eastern Virginia Bankshares Inc. plan to merge in a stock transaction worth approximately $178.3 million. Southern National's stock climbed 1.96% to $15.90 around midday, and Eastern Virginia's stock rose 1.76% to $9.84.

Among price losers, First NBC Bank Holding Co. lost 18.23% to $7.85 around midday.

In the thrift space, New York Community Bancorp Inc. lost 0.56% to $16.88, and BofI Holding Inc. retreated 2.86% to $27.22.

In other economic news, Mortgage applications decreased 4% from a week ago on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ended Dec. 9, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported.

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