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Equifax may come under regulatory scanner; banks look to cut credit card rewards

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Equifax may come under regulatory scanner; banks look to cut credit card rewards

In 2019, House Democrats will focus on bringing legislation to increase oversight of the credit reporting industry, The Wall Street Journal reports. The move comes in response to a 2017 data breach at Equifax Inc. that resulted in the loss of Social Security numbers and personal information of 147.9 million people. The House Financial Services Committee, which will now be headed by Rep. Maxine Waters, D- Calif., is expected to hold a hearing in early 2019, possibly with testimony from senior officials at major credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian PLC and TransUnion.

Global banks have pulled back from cross-border lending since the financial crisis in 2008, The Wall Street Journal reports. The amount of cross-border lending by global banks declined nearly 17% to $29.456 trillion in the second quarter of 2018 from $35.453 trillion in the first quarter of 2008, according to data from Bank for International Settlements, which monitors global financial trends.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and American Express Co. are among companies looking to cut back or revise some of the rewards on their credit cards in ways that scale back heavy sign-up bonuses and encourage consumers to increase their card usage, sources for The Wall Street Journal say. These banks offered major perks like airfare and cash back on cards assuming they would make consumers spend more and the banks would earn more interest. However, consumers have learned how to game the system and they spend just enough to earn heavy sign-up bonuses and abandon the cards later, according to the report.

Investors expect to see greater volatility in the bond market in 2019 amid uncertainty over interest rates, inflation and growth, The Wall Street Journal reports. In 2019, bond market investors are likely to closely watch the gap between the yields on two- and 10-year Treasury yields, economic data, and the Federal Reserve's messaging, according to the report.

Robinhood Markets Inc., a stock trading platform, no longer allows users to put their names on a waitlist for its new cash management account. It removed the waitlist from its mobile app and website without a notification, MarketWatch reports. U.S. senators have raised concerns about Robinhood's cash management account, which the company earlier called checking and savings account. The startup said on Twitter said the company was making changes to the program and will reintroduce it this year.

U.S. agribusiness giant Monsanto Co. sued lenders Wells Fargo Trust and Citizens Asset Finance Inc. over alleged default threats, Bloomberg News reports. Monsanto said the lenders hold leases on some company planes and may try to claim that Bayer Aktiengesellschaft's takeover of the company placed the contracts in default. In its complaint, Monsanto is asking asking a judge to block the lenders from declaring the leases in default.

In deal news, The Colony Group LLC, a Boston-based independent, fee-only financial advisory firm, is acquiring independent wealth management firm Aurora Financial Advisors LLC, and Gelfand Rennert & Feldman LLC is acquiring WG&S LLP. The Colony Group and Gelfand Rennert & Feldman are partner firms at Focus Financial Partners Inc., a partnership of independent fiduciary wealth management firms.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has denied having ties to Unipec, a trading arm of Chinese state oil major Sinopec Corp., which suffered heavy trading losses on crude oil transactions due to oil price slumps, Caixin Global reports, citing a statement from the investment bank. Goldman's response came after some media outlets hinted that the company had offered advice or services to Unipec relating to the deal.

Greek banker Minos Zombanakis, widely known for originating the London interbank offered rate, died in December 2018. An obituary in the Journal highlights that he advised U.S. financiers in Europe and the Middle East, and also ran European operations for U.S. firms, including Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co., First Boston and Blyth, Eastman, Dillon & Co..

In other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: Sumitomo affiliate, Toyota unit to form JV; India's LIC names acting chair

Europe: Deutsche Bank chair rules out need for state aid; Carige capital woes in focus

Middle East & Africa: Sharjah boosts offer for Invest Bank; regulator weighs SABB-Alawwal Bank merger

Now featured on S&P Global Market Intelligence

The year in fintech: Rise of digital banks, fall of cryptocurrencies: From the rise of digital banking to the approval of the long-awaited fintech charter, 2018 was a year of change in the fintech space.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, Hang Seng fell 2.77% to 25,130.35, while the Nikkei 225 was closed.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 decreased 0.82% to 6,672.97, and the Euronext 100 was down 1.36% to 904.15.

On the macro front

The Redbook report and the Purchasing Managers' Manufacturing index report is 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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