* In Missouri, Community National Bank has agreed to merge with Freedom Bank of Southern Missouri, a unit of Freedom Bancshares of Southern Missouri, The Monett Times reports. The merger, which will see the two banks combine under the name of Freedom Bank, is set to close during the second quarter.
* Meanwhile, in Maine, Biddeford Savings Bank and Mechanics Savings Bank have merged under a single banking charter on Jan. 1 and formed Maine Community Bank. Biddeford Savings and Mechanics Savings, which will retain their names as divisions of the new Maine Community Bank, are units of Maine Community Bancorp. The latest move creates a bank with assets of almost $1 billion.
* In a recent interview, Comerica CEO Curt Farmer said that the Dallas-based bank's management is majorly focused on growth after years of cost-cutting and efficiency improvement, American Banker reports. Farmer additionally indicated that the company is open to an acquisition "if the right deal comes along," according to the news outlet.
* The Federal Reserve's December meeting minutes are expected to have clues related to plans for the repurchase markets and officials' stance on interest rates, Bloomberg News reports. As of now, no further rate cuts are expected until the end of 2022.
* As the current expected credit loss standard is set to go into effect, banking investors are expected shift focus from interest rates to credit risks, The Wall Street Journal reports. Additionally, analysts predict CECL could also lead to an increase in the volatility of reserve levels during economic downturns.
* Health Insurance Innovations has signed an agreement to settle an investigation with Washington's insurance commissioner. As per the agreement, the firm will pay the state $1.5 million.
* Argo Group International Holdings has entered into a cooperation agreement with activist investor Voce Capital Management, whereby the insurer will change its board composition. Under the agreement, Carol McFate will join the board and succeed former CEO Mark Watson as a director.
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