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Indonesia, Japan extend currency swap; Philippines-EU free trade talks delayed

* Indonesia and Japan signed an agreement to extend a US$22.76 billion currency swap deal for the third time to strengthen financial cooperation between the two countries and retain financial stability across Asia in the event of a liquidity crisis, Singapore's The Business Times reported, citing a statement from Bank Indonesia Governor Agus Martowardojo.

* The second round of negotiations between the Philippines and the European Union for a free trade agreement has been pushed back to early 2017, The Philippine Star reported, citing Walter van Hattum, the head of trade in the E.U.'s delegation to the Philippines. The first round of meetings took place in May.

* Japan and South Korea are unlikely to complete their talks on a new bilateral currency swap agreement by the end of 2016, The Japan Times reported, citing South Korean Deputy Prime Minister Yoo Il-ho. The minister cited the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye as one of the reasons for the delay in the negotiations.

* John Tsang, Hong Kong's financial secretary, has resigned from his post. KC Chan, secretary for financial services and the treasury, will take the role of acting financial secretary following Tsang's resignation.

GREATER CHINA

* Pan Gongsheng, vice governor of the People's Bank of China, said risks in the country's internet finance sector are gradually declining, Reuters reported. Pan said the central bank will now focus on standardizing the industry and promoting an orderly development of internet finance.

* Taiwan's Ministry of Finance raised the taxable threshold for personal income taxes to NT$88,000 from NT$85,000 after consumer prices rose more than 3% over the last four years, the Taipei Times reported. The adjustment is expected to benefit more than six million taxpayers who could save an average of NT$1,776 in their tax burden by May 2017.

* Bank of Qingdao Co. Ltd. filed an application to the China Securities Regulatory Commission to list on China's stock market, the Securities Times reported. The bank plans to issue up to 1 billion shares, the Securities Times reported.

* The China Insurance Regulatory Commission is sending two inspection groups to Foresea Life and Evergrande Life Insurance Co. Ltd. to handle potential financial risks from massive share purchases, Pakistan's Daily Times reported. The move comes after Foresea Life was banned from offering new life insurance products and selling new policies.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. is planning to increase the initial salary of new sales staff in an effort to keep employees from leaving the company, The Nikkei reported. The move will be the first such increase by the company since 2007, with the increase ranging between ¥5,000 and ¥30,000.

* Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. will establish a branch in Saudi Arabia in 2018, The Nikkei reported. The company submitted the branch application to Saudi authorities, which is expected to be approved soon.

* Tokyo Star Bank Ltd. will form a business tie-up with two trust companies to start offering inheritance-related services, The Nikkei reported.

* Officials of South Korea's Financial Services Commission and the Financial Supervisory Service decided to raise the target ratio of fixed-rate loans in 2017 to lower risks from rising interest rates, The Korea Herald reported, citing the country's financial regulator.

* South Korea's insurers are protesting amendments made to a newly passed income tax bill, which will directly impact their tax-exempt insurance products, the Dong-A Ilbo reported. The bill was passed Dec. 2.

ASEAN

* Permanent Secretary for Finance Somchai Sujjapongse asked the Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand to tighten regulations and inspection of foreign currency exchange agents and investment brokers following complaints of fraudulent activity by companies claiming to operate foreign currency exchange and investment business, Daily News reported.

* KASIKORNBANK PCL is introducing a real estate service for high-income customers following the Thai government's approval of the land and building tax, The Nation reported, citing Jirawat Supornpaibul, executive vice president and head of the company's private banking business.

* Indonesian state lender PT Bank Mandiri (Persero) Tbk aims for double-digit credit growth in its auto loan business in 2017, Bisnis Indonesia reported, citing retail banking director Tardi.

* The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is urging Philippine banks to develop internal policies involving "clean" notes and coins to help preserve and prolong the lifespan of banknotes in circulation, BusinessWorld reported, citing a circular.

SOUTH ASIA

* India's Competition Appellate Tribunal imposed penalties on four insurance companies — National Insurance Co. Ltd., New India Assurance Co. Ltd., Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. and United India Insurance Co. Ltd. — for engaging in anti-competitive practices such as manipulating the bidding process with regard to the comprehensive health insurance scheme.

* The Indian government may amend regulatory guidelines to render 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee banknotes printed before Nov. 9 invalid, which may take effect March 31, 2017, the Press Trust of India reported, citing government officials.

* The Reserve Bank of India is asking banks to maintain records of new banknotes in view of seizures by the country's income tax department and other agencies, Press Trust of India reported, citing a statement from the central bank.

* Axis Bank Ltd. said it is planning to raise 35 billion Indian rupees through the issuance of nonconvertible debentures.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has banned Andrew TambyRajah, a former Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. financial planner, for five years after he was found to have falsified certain documents, The Australian reported.

* Commonwealth Bank of Australia said it increased its yearly interest rates on investor home loans by seven basis points to 5.56% and line of credit home loans by 15 basis points to 5.78% per annum. CBA will also launch new interest-only products for customers using this repayment option.

* Australia's MLC Life Insurance is planning to make its pricing more competitive as it targets the group insurance market, following the sale of National Australia Bank Ltd.'s stake in the life insurer, Singapore's The Business Times reported, citing MLC CEO David Hackett.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Middle East & Africa: Non-OPEC countries join in oil cuts; Gambian president rejects loss

Europe: UniCredit, Amundi strike Pioneer deal; UK banks could face fresh PPI bill

Latin America: Banco do Brasil expects lower payroll costs; Fitch cuts outlook on Mexico

North America: Prudential's Wells tie-up may mean it got fake accounts too

North America Insurance: Wells Fargo sales scandal hits Prudential Financial; Aetna defends exchange exit

Sally Wang, Sarun Saelee, Cathy Hwang, Emi White and Aditya Suharmoko contributed to this report.

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