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OCC disappointed with Sloan's testimony; Goldman Sachs reviews businesses

Banking giant Wells Fargo & Co. President and CEO Timothy Sloan said the company and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency have not discussed the possibility of forcibly removing several executives and board members. In a congressional hearing, House Financial Services Committee Chair Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., mentioned a report by The Wall Street Journal that the OCC is considering the move against Wells Fargo. Waters said the OCC, as well as other regulators, should "take this important step" with the company, but Sloan said he "had no conversations about that topic with the OCC."

Following Sloan's testimony, a spokesman for the OCC issued a statement expressing the agency's disappointment with Wells Fargo's performance under the consent order and "its inability to execute effective corporate governance and a successful risk management program," WSJ reports.

Citigroup Inc. CFO Mark Mason said first-quarter revenue from fixed-income and equity trading would be down in the "high single-digits" year over year, Reuters reports. Mason also said the company sped up some of its plans to reduce expenses by simplifying its organization and by improving its internal processes. Mason, who was appointed CFO in February, also expects the bank's expenses will be slightly higher again in the first half of 2019, as compared to the second half, Financial Times reports. However, he also said the bank should see some improvements in operating efficiency for the year.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is conducting a firmwide review of its businesses as it looks to restructure its alternative investments businesses, sources told Business Insider. The review, which is in its early stage, is part of the company's efforts to simplify its investing businesses. Goldman Sachs may also decide to combine its merchant banking division with its asset management arm, or may increase coordination between the two divisions.

Goldman Sachs is opening up its special situations group, one of its most profitable businesses, to outside investors, sources told The Wall Street Journal. The special situations group may also be combined with the merchant-banking group. The company is also looking into reorganizing its private investing activities into a new unit that would seek to raise new funds.

In regulatory news, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathleen Kraninger reiterated that her agency needs explicit authority from Congress to actively review loan products and lenders for military members. Kraninger said the Dodd-Frank Act does not specifically require the agency to enforce the Military Lending Act. Several Democrat senators have earlier urged Kraninger to restore the review of lending practices for military members, arguing that the existing policies are more than sufficient to justify the routine review.

And on Capitol Hill, the House Financial Services Committee will conduct a hearing entitled, "Preparing for the Storm: Reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program." The Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy will also conduct a hearing titled, "Promoting Corporate Transparency: Examining Legislative Proposals to Detect and Deter Financial Crime."

In other parts of the world

Asia Pacific: Ping An plans 10B yuan share buy back; Samsung Life eyes Vietnam M&A deal

Europe: Standard Life Aberdeen shakeup; 2nd Brexit deal defeat; Värde eyes Carige

Middle East & Africa: FirstRand fiscal H1 earnings up YOY; EU adds UAE, Oman to tax haven blacklist

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The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng was down 0.39% to 28,807.45, and the Nikkei 225 fell 0.99% to 21,290.24.

In Europe before midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.05% to 7,154.95, and the Euronext 100 went up 0.24% to 1,023.73.

On the macro front

U.S. mortgage activity was mixed in the week ended March 8, according to the Mortgage Bankers' Association. The composite index grew 2.3% from the prior week, the purchase index went up 4.0% and the refinance index slipped 0.2%.

The durable goods orders, the Producer Price Index-Final Demand, construction spending, e-commerce retail sales and Energy Information Administration petroleum status reports 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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