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Trump's pick withdraws from Fed board nomination; First Financial to buy HopFed


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Trump's pick withdraws from Fed board nomination; First Financial to buy HopFed

Economist Nellie Liang, who was nominated by President Donald Trump in September 2018 to be a member of the Federal Reserve Board, withdrew her nomination. Liang, whose nomination met resistance from bank lobbyists and some Republican senators who believe she would hinder deregulation, said the possible lengthy Senate confirmation process "could have left me in professional limbo for too long," The Wall Street Journal reports.

BlackRock Inc.'s legal bid to lower taxes for customers of its Aladdin unit, a platform powered by artificial intelligence for investment analysis, could be derailed if the U.K. exits the European Union without an agreement on the terms of their future relationship, Bloomberg Tax reports. The European Court of Justice is not likely to release a ruling on the case until after Brexit and a no-deal Brexit would mean the U.K. would not have to follow the EU's decision on the case, according to the report.

A New York court has rejected former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. director Rajat Gupta's bid to overturn his 2012 insider-trading conviction, Bloomberg News reports. Gupta was convicted of passing confidential boardroom information to now jailed hedge fund manager Raj Ratnam.

On the M&A front, Indiana-based First Financial Corp. is acquiring Kentucky-based HopFed Bancorp Inc. in a $128.3 million cash-and-stock deal.

And in other people news, Thomas Peterffy will leave his position as CEO of Interactive Brokers Group Inc. in the third quarter, to be succeeded by Milan Galik, who has been the company's president since 2014. Peterffy will remain chairman of the company.

In other parts of the world

Asia Pacific: Bank of Communications gets OK on wealth unit; 2 Philippines banks to merge

Europe: Italy passes decree to help bolster Carige; investors sue Nordbank for €1.4B

Middle East & Africa: UAE banks face pressure to merge; Israel holds rate; Angola to stress test banks

Now featured on S&P Global Market Intelligence

2018 leaves bank investors bruised, searching for value: After a tough 2018, some analysts believe bank stocks are now undervalued, while others are only recommending select names because they see fewer tailwinds to drive the group higher.

US bank market cap ranking: Among the top 20 largest banks by market capitalization, only two — First Republic Bank and Commerce Bancshares Inc. — posted a year-over-year increase in market capitalization as of Jan. 2.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng was up 0.15% to 25,875.449. The Nikkei 225 rose 0.82% to 20,204.04.

In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 increased 1.11% to 6,886.30, and the Euronext 100 rose 1.25% to 931.11.

On the macro front

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, the International Trade report, the Redbook report and the JOLTS 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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