The Trump rally left George Soros almost a billion dollars poorer on paper, The Wall Street Journal reports, but plenty others made money. Those owning bank stocks, e.g. bank executives, have been in a particularly good position to rake it in. SNL's U.S. bank index has climbed about 20% since Donald Trump was proclaimed the election's winner; the S&P 500 rose only 6% over the same period. In that time, bank executives from the likes of JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley have sold almost $100 million in stock, the WSJ reports, plus $350 million to cover the cost of exercising options, some of which were just about to expire.
Also in banking:
Fifth Third Bancorp reported fourth-quarter 2016 net income available to common shareholders of $372 million, or 49 cents per share. In comparison, it was $634 million, or 79 cents per share, a year ago. The recent quarter saw the Cincinnati-based company's EPS adjusted by a penny, thanks to a $9 million pretax gain on the Vantiv warrant net exercise, a $6 million benefit related to the valuation of the Visa total return swap, a $16 million reduction to net interest income for refunds to certain bankcard customers and a $6 million tax benefit from the early adoption of an accounting standard.
It wasn't just fake accounts, some ex-Wells Fargo & Co. employees claim. Former loan officer Frank Chavez and three others allege the San Francisco-based company has been improperly charging interest rate extension fees to mortgage applicants, reports ProPublica. The affected applicant would be someone who wants to retain an earlier, more favorable rate, despite it having risen while the loan was being processed. If the process is slow, the extension fee should be paid by whoever caused the delay. But while the bank was reportedly often at fault, employees found ways to shift blame onto customers, such as by asking for more paperwork than necessary just to slow them down. The ex-employees named Tom Swanson, the region's head, as the person behind the policy. Swanson is said to have openly admitted that his bonus is linked to extension fee payouts.
Chavez says he sent a letter with the allegations to the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee in November 2016, a couple of months after the scandal broke.
Arkansas' Simmons First National Corp. is on an acquisitive streak, striking a $462 million cash-and-stock deal for First Texas BHC Inc. If that deal and those for Hardeman County Investment Co. and Southwest Bancorp close, Simmons First expects to have $13.5 billion in assets on a pro forma basis.
Los Angeles-based Hope Bancorp, Inc., meanwhile, will pay approximately $48.8 million in stock for Lynnwood, Wash.-based U & I Financial Corp., in a deal that will make Hope the only Korean-American bank with Pacific Northwest operations.
And Pinnacle Financial Partners Inc.'s $175 million capital raise is underway, with part of the proceeds going toward its $1.9 billion purchase of BNC Bancorp.
In courtroom news, a U.S. judge decided asset managers BlackRock Inc. and Pacific Investment Management Co. LLC can proceed with trying to hold Deutsche Bank AG liable for RMBS losses. The judge, however, dismissed the lawsuit's conflict-of-interest claims.
And the U.K. Supreme Court ruled against Prime Minister Theresa May, saying the British Parliament gets to vote on Brexit before Article 50 can be triggered.
In other parts of the world
Asia-Pacific: South Korea, HK sign financial data deal; 2 foreign banks get Indian license
Europe: Generali reacts to Intesa; Deutsche faces class-action; Brexit news expected
Middle East & Africa: Mauritius PM passes baton to son; Ecobank loses deputy head
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 0.22% to 22,949.86, while the Nikkei 225 fell 0.55% to 18,787.99.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 gained 0.10% to 7,158.41, and the Euronext 100 climbed 0.07% to 930.81.
On the macro front
The Redbook, the PMI manufacturing index flash, the existing home sales report and the Richmond Fed manufacturing index are due out today.
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