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Wells to pay $110M to settle fake account suit; BofA fined $45M for foreclosure

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Wells to pay $110M to settle fake account suit; BofA fined $45M for foreclosure

Just in: Mountain Grove, Mo.-based First Bancshares Inc. is acquiring Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Stockmens Bank in an all-stock deal.

Wells Fargo & Co. has agreed in principle to settle a class-action lawsuit linked to retail sales practices for $110 million, pending court approval. The lawsuit — filed in May 2015 — claimed that it opened accounts or enrolled customers for a product or service without their consent between Jan. 1, 2009, through the execution of the settlement. Wells, which was also downgraded by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, will face new restrictions that may lead to delays in branch openings and curbs on acquisitions of nonbank companies, the Financial Times reports.

Elsewhere in banking:

Bank of America Corp. will have to pay a $45 million fine for a wrongful foreclosure. Of the total amount, the plaintiffs Erik and Renee Sundquist were awarded almost $1.1 million, while the rest will go to law schools and consumer advocacy organizations, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Melba Bartels is resigning as CFO and senior executive vice president of HomeStreet Inc., effective April 23. Bartels will assume the same role at Tukwila, Wash.-based Boeing Employees Credit Union on May 1.

In California, Community Bank revised earnings for the fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2016, due to "isolated, customer specific" credit impairment that it identified in the financial condition of one loan customer that relates to conditions that existed at 2016-end.

Meanwhile, according to a new S&P Global Market Intelligence report, U.S. community bank margins will expand over the next few years, as credit quality proves better than expected. That environment, along with stronger bank stock currencies, could mean even more community bank M&A.

In the asset manager scene:

BlackRock Inc. is reorganizing its active equity offerings into four new product groups: core alpha, high-conviction alpha, outcome-oriented, and country and sector specialty. The company said that the changes of strategy or portfolio management will impact about $30 billion in assets under management, or about 11% of total active equity assets under management. It is also launching a new BlackRock Advantage series of products, which falls within the new core alpha category and will include nine mutual funds with access to the company's quantitative investment team. Additionally, a Reuters' source says that BlackRock is laying off more than 40 employees, including some portfolio managers, as part of the reorganization.

Ashford Inc. has dropped its proposed merger with hotel property and project management company Remington Holdings LP after failing to receive an acceptable private letter ruling from the Internal Revenue Service.

In fintech news, while continuing its bidding war with Ant Financial Services Group over MoneyGram International Inc., Euronet Worldwide Inc. sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin claiming that the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. subsidiary poses national security risks.

And the SEC has turned down the proposed rule change filed by NYSE Arca to list and trade shares of Solidx Bitcoin Trust.

In more government and regulatory news:

Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan said that the Fed should be careful with rate hikes as moving rates too quickly might push the economy into recession. On the other hand, Kansas City Fed President Esther George said she needs more details on President Donald Trump's fiscal proposals before incorporating them into her economic projections, Reuters reports.

Facing the prospect of regulatory rollback by the White House, regulators are taking action to defend the Community Reinvestment Act, which requires banks to lend to low-income communities and low-income households. Speaking at a National Community Reinvestment Coalition conference yesterday, Fed Chair Janet Yellen noted that by helping channel capital into communities of need, CRA initiatives help businesses create jobs and create broader economic opportunities.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has passed H.R. 24, or the "Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2017" in the House of Representatives. Under the bill, the U.S. comptroller general would conduct a full audit on the Fed Board of Governors, as well as the Fed banks within 12 months after the date of the enactment of the bill.

Also, Republicans on a House subcommittee criticized the Financial Stability Oversight Council's authority to label nonbank companies as systemically risky, following a wave of scrutiny on the regulatory group that began in February.

And the U.K. today formally declared its intention to leave the European Union, starting a two-year negotiation over the terms of its departure.

In other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: Citi seeks Asian insurance partner; Kotak Mahindra may buy finance company

Europe: UK triggers Brexit; global insured disaster losses up; RBS proposes settlement

Middle East & Africa: Citi seeks Saudi return; Barclays Zimbabwe on the block

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 0.19% to 24,392.05, and the Nikkei 225 was up 0.08% to 19,217.48.

In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.19% to 7,329.57, and the Euronext 100 had fallen 0.06% to 973.63.

On the macro front

The Bank Reserve Settlement report, the MBA mortgage applications report, the pending home sales index and the EIA petroleum status report are due out today.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 7:30 a.m. ET. Some external links may require a subscription.