* Banco de México raised the target for the overnight interbank interest rate by 25 basis points to 8.25%, noting that inflation fell to 4.72% in November from 4.90% in October. However, "headline inflation expectations for the medium and long terms continue to be above the 3% target, at around 3.50%," the central bank added.
* The United Nations' Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean cut its average economic growth projection for 2019 in the region to 1.7% from its previous October forecast of 1.8% and also lowered its economic growth projection for 2018 to 1.2% from 1.3% previously. The commission forecasts that Brazil and Mexico will grow 2.0% and 2.1% in 2019, respectively. Overall, Central America is expected to grow 3.3% in 2019, while South America and the Caribbean will grow at 1.4% and 2.1%, respectively.
MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
* Toronto-based Bank of Nova Scotia has agreed to sell its pension and related insurance businesses in the Dominican Republic to Grupo Rizek. The deal involves the sale of Scotia Crecer AFP and Scotia Seguros to Grupo Rizek, a diversified business group in the Caribbean country. Scotiabank said the deal is not financially material to the bank but will result in a capital gain and an increase of approximately 10 basis points to its common equity Tier 1 capital ratio once completed.
* Fitch Ratings said increased investments in financial technology and innovation as a core strategy will support credit fundamentals for Mexico in the medium term. Technology spending accounting for an average of 4.8% of operating expenses as of the third quarter of 2018 from 4.0% in the 2012-2017 period.
* Fintech companies will find it challenging to comply with the anti-money laundering controls contemplated by Mexico's new regulations for the sector, El Economista reported, citing Alexandra Mateos Calderón, a collaborator at the International Institute of Ethics and Compliance. She said the law would oblige fintech platforms to have similar standards on the issue as traditional financial institutions, such as the hiring of a compliance officer who will oversee anti-money laundering efforts.
* Grupo Financiero Citibanamex SA de CV reached a $15 million, two-year financing agreement with the sofipo, or popular financial society Consejo de Asistencia al Microemprendedor SA de CV SFP, El Economista reported. Citibanamex said the deal would allow the microfinance entity to widen its microfinance portfolio and expand credit access to small-scale businesses.
* Bank of Jamaica lowered its benchmark policy rate by 25 basis points to 1.75% as inflation fell to 4.1% in November from 4.7% in the linked month and 4.9% in the year-ago period. Between the latter half of 2019 and early in 2020, inflation could drop below the lower end of the target range of 4.0% to 6.0%.
* Banco Santander (Brasil) SA named Patrícia Souto Audi and Alberto Monteiro de Queiroz Neto to be executive vice presidents. Souto Audi previously held the position of executive superintendent at the bank, while Queiroz Neto was director since November, Reuters reported.
* More than 300 Brazilian towns have no bank branch due to a wave of closures over the last five years linked to an economic downturn and a shift toward digital banking among lenders, Valor Econômico reported.
* Henrique Villela, former head of private banking at Banco Safra de Investimentos in Rio de Janeiro, is to start a new post at Faros Investimentos, the largest independent agency linked to XP Investimentos, Valor Econômico reported.
* Brazilian Supreme Court Chief Justice Dias Toffoli suspended a court ruling that would allow former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to leave jail, Reuters reported. The Supreme Court will review the case April 10.
* Brazil's government will pay out some 23 million reais in the coming days to cover a default on a loan granted to Cuba by Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social, Folha de S. Paulo newspaper reported. It said most of the debt was related to the Mariel port project near Havana.
* Mario Suárez Melo has tendered his resignation as president of development bank Banco de Comercio Exterior de Colombia SA – BANCÓLDEX for personal reasons. Suárez Melo will remain in his post until the board names his replacement.
* Dollar-denominated vehicle loans in Peru fell to 14% of the total in November from 21% in the year-ago period, El Comercio reported, citing the latest central bank data. The percentage of mortgage loans in dollars fell to 16% from 20% in the same month a year ago.
* The monetary board of Banco Central del Paraguay unanimously decided to keep its benchmark interest rate at 5.25%, noting that inflation expectations remain in line with its 4% medium-term target.
* The net profits of Chilean insurance companies fell 20% in the first nine months of 2018 year over year, dipping to $605 million, Diario Financiero reported, citing data from the Financial Market Commission. A decline in profits from the life segment and weaker income from credit insurance policies weighed on overall earnings.
* Banco Macro SA's board set a share buyback program of up to 900.0 million Argentine pesos, or up to 1% of total capital stock, at a maximum reacquisition price of up to 158.00 pesos per share. The program will run until Jan. 10, 2019.
PAN LATIN AMERICA
* Revenues from investment banking in Latin America may reach $2 billion in 2019, Bloomberg News reported. The bigger share of the revenues may come from Brazil, with Alberto Pandolfi, head of investment banking at Citigroup Inc. for Latin America saying that the bank is optimistic about Brazil for the next year as election uncertainty is waning.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
* Asia-Pacific: HSBC Australia names new head of retail; Taiwan holds rate steady
* Middle East & Africa: Saudi banks settle Islamic tax dispute; Qatar ups key rate; Fitch affirms Angola
* Europe: New bond market scandal; Danske profit warning; Russia's VTB hacked
Helen Popper contributed to this article.
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