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Argentina removes foreign capital holding period; Peru eases bank stake rules

* Argentina's finance ministry decided to remove a 120-day mandatory holding period for foreign capital entered into the local exchange market, according to a resolution published in the country's official gazette. Former Argentine Finance Minister Alfonso Prat-Gay had previously reduced the compulsory holding period from 365 days, Reuters reported.

* Peru's government published a decree to promote investment in the local financial system, allowing foreign-owned banks and "top tier" local banks to hold stakes in other Peruvian lenders. Previously, banks were prevented from being shareholders in other banking-sector companies unless it was through a merger approved by regulator SBS.

MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA

* Banco de México sold at least $1 billion in U.S. currency on Jan. 5 to help the Mexican peso recover from record-low levels, Reuters reported, citing four anonymous traders.

* A new cap on Mexican gasoline and diesel prices will raise expenditures for state and local governments in the current year, but will not result in rating changes as these entities have the ability to implement budgetary adjustments, Fitch Ratings said.

* Mexico's central bank is expected to raise its benchmark interest rate by another 50 basis points in February, El Economista reported, citing a survey by Citibanamex.

CARIBBEAN

* Cayman Islands-based lender Cainvest has acquired Bahamas-based Dartley Bank from the Ourinvest group, Valor Econômico reported. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

BRAZIL

* Savings withdrawals in Brazil surpassed deposits by 40.7 billion reais in the full year of 2016, according to central bank data. In 2015, net savings withdrawals in the country reached about 53.57 billion reais.

* Brazil's new economic measures will have little immediate impact on banks given their risk-averse stance amid the country's weak economy, Moody's said. The rating agency sees lending activity in the country remaining unchanged in the coming months despite the new measures, but noted that borrowers' repayment capacity and credit growth in the long term could improve.

* Tougher legal and regulatory analysis of mergers and acquisitions in Brazil may cause a deceleration in dealmaking activity in the country in 2017, Reuters reported, citing bankers and lawyers. "Legal and regulatory hurdles along with a growing zeal for compliance have become day-to-day features in Brazil investment banking," said Marcus Silberman, head of Brazil M&A at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "It makes it more challenging for buyers and sellers to close a deal."

* Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social has created a department to monitor and evaluate projects financed by the bank, Valor Econômico reported. The lender aims to use external consulting services to evaluate loans worth more than 1 billion reais. BNDES is also in advanced talks to partner with a financial technology firm to distribute the bank's credit products, the publication reported separately.

* Financial technology firms granted 300 million reais of loans in Brazil during 2016 as traditional banks restricted their loan disbursements, Valor Econômico reported, citing market estimates.

* Banco Bradesco SA revised its fourth-quarter 2016 GDP forecast for Brazil to a contraction of 0.9% from its previous estimate of a 0.7% shrinkage, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported. In making the revision, the bank cited weak data for industrial output in November 2016.

ANDEAN

* A newly signed structural tax reform in Colombia will generate credit positives for the country, including additional revenue that will support fiscal targets and help stabilize debt ratios, Moody's said. The tax reform is expected to raise new revenues equal to 0.8% of GDP in 2017 and up to 2.7% of GDP in 2020.

* Citibank del Perú SA said its shareholders accepted the resignation of alternate director Julio Figueroa Baibiene.

* Julio Borges, the newly installed head of Venezuela's congress, called for fresh elections in the country and asked for military assistance to end what he described as President Nicolas Maduro's "dictatorship," Reuters reported. Borges called for new elections for mayors, governors, legislators and the presidency, saying that Maduro had abandoned his duties.

SOUTHERN CONE

* Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria Chile S.A. said it placed 3.7-year bonds worth 50 billion Chilean pesos in the local market. The bonds carry an annual interest rate of 4.49%, which represents a spread of 76 basis points over the risk-free benchmark, Pulso reported.

* Argentina's central bank approved the appointment of Manuel Juan Luciano Herrera Grazioli as Banco Hipotecario SA's deputy general manager.

* The Argentine government is delaying a plan to repurchase up to $13.8 billion in GDP warrants in order to focus on funding the roll-over of debt due in 2017 and financing its fiscal deficit, Bloomberg News reported, citing "two people with knowledge of the situation." The plan was announced in June 2016 and its completion was initially targeted by January at the latest.

* Chile's economy grew just 0.8% in November 2016 compared with the same month a year ago despite an upturn in the copper market, the country's central bank said in a statement.

* Argentina's central bank issued a decree allowing local banks to again pay interest on current accounts, El Cronista reported. The decree overturns a 2010 decision that had prevented such payments.

* JPMorgan Chase & Co. said it will incorporate three Argentine sovereign bonds into the bank's GBI-EM index in a move that could lower the country's borrowing costs, El Cronista reported. The bank's decision follows Argentina eliminating a 120-day mandatory holding period for foreign capital entering the country.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

* Asia-Pacific: Barclays Japan head probed; Mitsubishi UFJ, Hitachi Capital to form JV

* Middle East & Africa: A Saudi push to sell more homes; a Ghanaian call for deeper insurance reach

* Europe: ECB urged to raise rates; Banco Popular integrates; BAWAG eyes Allianz unit

Matthew Craze contributed to this article.

The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 8 a.m. São Paulo time, and scans news sources published in English, Portuguese and Spanish. Some external links may require a subscription.