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OCC may penalize Citi for discriminatory lending; Investar to buy Texas bank

The U.S. banking industry's third-quarter earnings season kicks off today, with Kansas City, Mo.-based Commerce Bancshares Inc. recording a year-over-year increase in third-quarter earnings per share to $1.03.

In other banking news, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is considering imposing a penalty against Citigroup Inc. for allegedly breaching fair lending standards by denying minority customers mortgage discounts offered to other borrowers, sources told Reuters. The banking giant discovered the errors in 2014 and reimbursed borrowers, a company spokesman told the publication. The OCC referred Citi's findings to the Justice Department in July, but the matter was returned to the OCC for "adminsitrative enforcement," an unnamed DOJ official told Reuters.

Citi is expected to make a big governance decision in the next few months when Chairman Mike O'Neill turns 72, the company's mandatory retirement age for directors, Reuters reports. Citi will have to decide whether CEO Mike Corbat will take on the chairman role or keep the CEO and chairman roles separate.

Wells Fargo & Co. has amped up its lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C. — adding more than 15 people to its team, tapping public relations and consulting firms Ogilvy and Federal Street Strategies, and increasing its charitable donations — Reuters reports, citing interviews and filings. Wells Fargo's efforts to be back in lawmakers' good graces were launched after the bank's fake accounts scandal broke out in September 2016, according to the report.

On the M&A front, Baton Rouge, La.-based Investar Holding Corp. is buying Texas City, Texas-based Mainland Bank in a $19.9 million deal.

As part of BlackRock Inc.'s move to become a bigger player in alternative investments, the asset management giant committed to invest up to $400 million on behalf of its clients to private equity firm Gallatin Point Capital LLC, sources told The Wall Street Journal.

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a request from exchanges owned by Intercontinental Exchange Inc., Nasdaq Inc. and Cboe Global Markets Inc. to hear a case questioning whether exchanges favor Wall Street's fastest traders. The high court's denial of the request was largely expected. The legal battle will continue in the federal district court.

In government and regulatory news, President Donald Trump took another shot at the Federal Reserve, saying the U.S. central bank "has gone crazy" by continuing to raise interest rates, CNBC reports. The Fed is expected to raise its benchmark federal funds rate for the fourth time this year in December.

Craig Phillips, counselor to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, said that he is disappointed about state regulators' negative reactions to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's national fintech charter, American Banker reports. At a conference in Washington, Phillips said fintech companies need to follow a single set of rules, noting that having fragmented state charters will put U.S. firms at a "huge disadvantage" to those operating outside the country, the publication added.

And the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs will hold a hearing at today titled "Exploring the Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Ecosystem."

In other parts of the world

Asia Pacific: China issues anti-money laundering rules; Merrill Lynch Japan behind TSE glitch

Europe: Brexit deal 'within reach'; Natixis eyes Ingenico; Tryg Q3 profit dips YOY

Middle East & Africa: QNB Q3 profit up YOY; Moody's revises outlook on Egypt's banking system

Now featured on S&P Global Market Intelligence

Sandler tops bank M&A league tables in Q3'18: Sandler O'Neill & Partners worked on 48 M&A deals in the bank and thrift sector with a total announced deal value of $15.94 billion through three quarters, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

KBW lands 8 common equity offerings in Q3: Keefe Bruyette & Woods earned deal credit from eight common equity transactions for banks and thrifts during the third quarter, according to S&P Market Intelligence's league table rankings.

Billion-dollar deals help BofA get top spot in fintech M&A rankings: Three third-quarter deals pushed Bank of America Merrill Lynch to the top the M&A deal value league table for the financial technology and payments space, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Morgan Stanley leads Q3 specialty finance, mortgage REIT common equity advisers: Six third-quarter deals helped Morgan Stanley stay in the top spot of the common equity underwriter rankings for the specialty finance and mortgage REIT industries by deal value, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng slipped 3.54% to 25,266.37, and the Nikkei 225 declined 3.89% to 22,590.86.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 1.65% to 7,027.61, and the Euronext 100 fell 1.70% to 991.57.

On the macro front

The consumer price index, the jobless claims report, the Energy Information Administration's natural gas and petroleum status reports, the Treasury budget report, the Federal Reserve balance sheet and the money supply 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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