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Missouri banks to merge; Comerica open to M&A; CECL to shift investor focus


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Missouri banks to merge; Comerica open to M&A; CECL to shift investor focus

In Missouri, Monett-based Community National Bank is merging with Cassville-based Freedom Bank of Southern Missouri, a unit of Freedom Bancshares of Southern Missouri Inc., The Monett Times reports. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed in the report, and the merger process, which will see the two banks combine under the name of Freedom Bank, is expected to be finalized in the second quarter.

In Maine, Biddeford-based Biddeford Savings Bank and Auburn-based Mechanics Savings Bank merged under a single banking charter on Jan. 1 to become 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 Inc. The merger creates a bank with assets of almost $1 billion, according to a news release.

In an interview with American Banker, Comerica Inc.'s new CEO, Curtis Farmer, indicated that the bank would be open to a potential deal in California or Texas. However, Farmer noted that deal opportunities are quite few. Farmer also said a recession in the next 12, 18 or 24 months is unlikely, and instead sees positive signs in the U.S. economy, especially in the markets of Michigan, California and Texas.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to shed light on its plans for the repo market with the release of the minutes of its December meeting, Bloomberg News reports. Moreover, the central bank is likely to elaborate on requisite conditions that would change the view of the officials to keep interest rates on hold in 2020.

In 2020, analysts believe that the focus of banking investors will shift from interest rates to credit risks, as most big lenders are set to follow the new standard for how banks reserve for potential losses on loans, referred to as current expected credit loss, or CECL, The Wall Street Journal reports. However, analysts believe that adherence to the new standard could increase the volatility of reserve levels in an economic downturn.

In other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: Australian fires force bank branch closures; Korean digital bank stops lending

Europe: Credit Suisse launches new CHF1.5B share buyback; HSBC hit by Hong Kong protests

Middle East & Africa: Equity, Atlas Mara still in talks over deal; Nigerian banks could be fined

Now featured on S&P Global Market Intelligence

2020 could bring another wave of regional bank MOEs: Market pressures and a regulatory rollback have triggered a wave of regional bank M&A that appears likely to continue in the year ahead.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng declined 0.32% to 28,451.50.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.46% to 7,569.23, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.66% to 1,150.59.

On the macro front

The motor vehicles sales report, the ISG Manufacturing Index, the construction spending report, the EIA Natural Gas Report and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count 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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