* Argentina's GDP contracted 6.2% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2018 on the back of a sharp decline in investment and private spending, official figures from national statistics agency INDEC showed. The country's economy shrank 2.5% in 2018.
* Caixa Econômica Federal could generate a profit of more than 1 billion reais through the sale of its stake in state-run oil company Petrobras, Valor Econômico reported. The bank plans to conduct the sale in early May, according to the report.
MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
* Mexican banking association ABM has ruled out an across-the-board agreement among banks and legislators to lower banking fees and commissions, claiming that such a deal would violate competition regulations, El Economista reported. Grupo Financiero Banorte SAB de CV CEO Marcos Ramírez Miguel recently said a draft agreement had been reached and would likely be announced during a banking convention that ends March 22.
* Mexico's finance ministry is working with local banking association ABM to draw up differentiated regulations for medium-sized and small niche banks in order to reduce their regulatory and administrative costs, Finance Undersecretary Arturo Herrera told El Financiero.
* Grupo Financiero Citibanamex SA de CV will be one of the first Mexican banks to test the central bank's CoDi mobile payment system in April, El Financiero reported. The use of CoDi is due to become mandatory by September.
* The seven largest banks in Mexico closed a net 47 branches between 2013 and 2018 as they shifted focus toward digital banking channels, El Financiero reported. Although bank branch networks in Mexico are still growing in general, the pace of growth has slowed considerably during the last five years, according to regulatory data.
* Mexico's finance ministry will create a national identification registry in order to protect Mexicans from identity theft and help foster financial inclusion, El Economista reported, citing Finance Undersecretary Arturo Herrera. Speaking at a banking convention, Herrera added that the government has moved on from a controversial proposal to reduce commissions charged by local banks, Notimex reported. "We do not talk about commissions because for us it is an issue that is closed," he said.
* The 84 banks that comprise Panama's international banking center saw their aggregate full-year 2018 profit increase 3.9% from the previous year, El Capital Financiero reported, citing regulatory data.
* Rômulo Dias resigned as CEO of Universo Online S/A, the parent of Brazilian credit card processing company PagSeguro Digital Ltd.. The company did not immediately name a replacement.
* Former Brazilian President Michel Temer has been arrested as part of an investigation into alleged corruption in the building of a power plant, Reuters reported. Prosecutors claim Temer led a "criminal organization" that siphoned off 1.8 billion reais of funds dedicated for the Angra nuclear power plant complex in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil's Bovespa stock market index closed 1.34% lower on March 21.
* Total credit to the private sector in Peru increased 7.6% year over year in February, Gestión reported, citing central bank data. Peruvian sole-denominated loans grew 11.2% annually, while U.S. dollar loans declined 0.7%.
* Alfonso Montero, chief investment officer at Credicorp Capital Ltd., is leaving the company to pursue personal projects, Citywire Americas reported. He will be replaced by Galantino Gallo, who has held various positions at Credicorp during the last five years.
* Venezuelan authorities arrested Roberto Marrero, who is opposition leader Juan Guaido's chief of staff, for his alleged links to a terrorist cell that was planning to target high-ranking politicians, Reuters reported. The opposition earlier claimed that weapons were planted in Marrero's house during a raid by intelligence agents.
* Argentina's CNV securities commission published guidelines for the issuance of green bonds in the country as it looks to attract new investors to the capital market, El Cronista reported. Global green bond issuances nearly tripled in the first two months of 2019.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
* Asia-Pacific: 3 central banks keep rates steady; Anbang selects buyer for wealth units
* Middle East & Africa: Dubai payments firm to change name; Saudi regulator approves SABB-Alawwal merger
* Europe: EU tables short Brexit delay; Swedbank to boost AML controls; Deutsche guidance
Helen Popper contributed to this article.
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