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Indonesia keeps key rates; Taiwan's First Commercial to open Manila branch

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Indonesia keeps key rates; Taiwan's First Commercial to open Manila branch

* Bank Indonesia kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 4.75% following the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to hike rates, Reuters reported. The central bank also maintained its deposits and lending rates at 4% and 5.50%, respectively.

* Taiwan's First Commercial Bank Co. Ltd., which will open a branch in Manila, is set to obtain an operating license from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the Taipei Times reported. The new branch would help extend the company's presence in ASEAN markets in line with a government policy aimed at reducing the island's economic dependence on China.

* Damien Brosnan is set to step down as UBS Group AG's co-head of equity capital markets at the end of December, Reuters reported, citing IFR. Peihao Huang will become the sole head of the team, the publication noted.

* Australia's BT Investment Management Ltd., of which Westpac Banking Corp. owns a 30% stake and has A$84 billion of funds under management, is looking into acquisitions as it plans to ramp up its growth in the U.S. over five years, Reuters reported, citing CEO Emilio Gonzalez.

GREATER CHINA

* A number of Chinese banks suspended the offering of loans to nonbanking financial institutions in the country, including funds and securities companies, as liquidity becomes tight in the sector, Caixin reported.

* Chen Wenhui, vice chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, said his body is looking into the possibility of cutting the shareholding ratio of insurers' single shareholders to less than one-third from the current 51%, Xinhua News Agency reported. Chen said the regulator would also require insurers to refrain from using insurance funds to make a significant equity investment.

* Central China Securities Co. Ltd. is seeking to raise up to 2.8 billion yuan via its planned IPO in Shanghai, Reuters reported, citing a Chinese-language release. The brokerage plans to issue up to 700 million shares at 4 yuan per share in its IPO.

* DBS Bank said Taiwan's GDP growth is expected to increase by 2.1% in 2017 on the back of a global recovery, the Taipei Times reported. DBS said the technology sector would be the main driver for Taiwan's economic growth. The Singapore-based bank forecast Taiwan's GDP to grow 1.5% in 2016.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* The Bank of Japan increased the amount of Japanese government bonds purchased for the first time since it implemented a new monetary policy framework in September, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported. The central bank purchased ¥320 billion of bonds with maturities of longer than 10 years, exceeding its original plan to purchase ¥300 billion.

* The Japanese central bank is reportedly considering upgrading its economic outlook during a two-day policy meeting in the week of Dec. 19, citing strong export growth and improved consumer spending, The Nikkei reported.

* South Korea's two new stakeholders in Woori Bank — TONGYANG Life Insurance Co. Ltd. and Hanwha Life Insurance Co. Ltd. are actively seeking ways to collaborate by using Woori Bank's existing infrastructure overseas and by initially developing a line of joint products in Indonesia, EDaily reported. In November, the two banks invested 152 billion won into Woori Bank's Indonesian unit.

* South Korea's four major banks — KB Kookmin Bank, KEB Hana Bank, Woori Bank and Shinhan Bank Co. Ltd. have set the country's economic growth projection lower than the 5% range, citing the domestic economy's continued stagnation and the U.S. Fed's decision to hike interest rates, the Chosun Ilbo reported, citing industry insiders.

ASEAN

* KASIKORNBANK PCL collaborated with Chinese financial technology company International Business Settlement Ltd. to develop an international settlement system for financial transactions denominated in Thai baht and Chinese yuan, Manager Daily reported, citing CEO Banthoon Lamsam.

* Thai Reinsurance PCL unit Thaire Services Co. Ltd. sold its 30% stake in Per Asia Co. Ltd. due to the underperformance of the company's results.

* PT Bank QNB Indonesia Tbk received a capital injection of US$56 million from shareholder Qatar National Bank SAQ, Bisnis Indonesia reported.

* The Monetary Authority of Singapore is proposing new guidelines on short selling, with the aim of enhancing transparency on such transactions.

SOUTH ASIA

* The Reserve Bank of India expressed support for a proposal to set up an independent regulator for digital payments, Mint reported, citing an email from Chandan Sinha, executive director at the Indian central bank.

* The RBI is also urging domestic lenders to investigate unusual cash movement in transactions at the banks' branches to prevent unauthorized note exchanges, The Economic Times reported.

* State-owned State Bank of India and Bank of Baroda increased deposits at least 4% following the Indian government's ban on old 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee denominated banknotes, Bloomberg News reported, citing A.K. Prabhakar, head of research at IDBI Capital Market Services.

* Karnataka Bank Ltd. raised 6.59 billion Indian rupees through an issuance of equity shares on a rights basis, The Hindu Business Line reported. The rights issue closed Nov. 28.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Excessive household debts and changes in mortgage rates affecting customers may force the Reserve Bank of Australia to further slash the cash rate, The Australian reported, citing Damien Boey, an analyst at Credit Suisse.

* Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. repurchased and canceled the remaining 10,683,282 convertible preference shares, in line with a plan to buy back all remaining convertible preference shares it issued in 2009.

* ANZ hired outgoing Commonwealth Ombudsman Colin Neave to lead a company-funded review of banks and financial services' products to see if they are fair, following a series of rate-rigging scandals and lawsuits, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Middle East & Africa: Central banks respond to Fed hike; Gabon restructures 3 banks

Europe: Banks' MREL funding need estimates cut; more calls for transitional Brexit deal

Latin America: Brazil credit bureau approval under fire; Argentina takes Mercosur presidency

North America: Chinese-led group's takeover of Chicago Stock Exchange gets US committee's nod

North America Insurance: Prudential Financial probe to go multistate; insured losses hit $49B in 2016

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

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