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Investa Bank sells brokerage firm; Chile cuts 2017 growth forecast

* Mexican banking and securities commission CNBV approved a deal for Grupo Bursametrica to acquire stock brokerage firm Casa de Bolsa Dumbarton from Investa Bank SA Institución de Banca Múltiple, Milenio reported. Dumbarton was established in 2000 but never started operating. Bursametrica will inject 200 million Mexican pesos to get the firm up and running by August.

* Banco Central de Chile lowered its 2017 GDP growth forecast for Chile to between 1.0% and 2.0% from a previous range of 1.5% to 2.5%, Reuters reported. "Recent data suggest that the speed of [growth] recovery will be somewhat slower than expected," the central bank said in a quarterly monetary policy report.

MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA

* Mexican insurance firms closed 2016 with an accumulated profit of 38.68 billion Mexican pesos, up from 21.21 billion pesos in 2015. Moody's said this 82% rise in profits was heavily driven by new Solvency II standards adopted by the sector on Jan. 1, 2016, and is expected to be a one-time gain only.

* Fitch Ratings published Grupo ASSA SA's long-term issuer default rating of BBB-, with a stable outlook, while assigning the insurance group an F3 short-term issuer default rating and a "bbb-" viability rating. The group's issuer default ratings mainly reflect the credit profile of its main subsidiary, ASSA Compania Tenedora SA, which is the largest contributor to the parent's net income and largest source of its cash dividends.

* S&P Global Ratings maintained the ratings of Investa Bank SA Institución de Banca Múltiple on CreditWatch negative amid an ongoing investigation by U.S. authorities into one of the bank's partners over alleged money laundering and tax evasion.

* Guatemala's Banco Industrial SA has obtained a $30 million credit line from the Export-Import Bank of Korea, El Periodico reported. The credit line aims to finance foreign trade operations by Guatemalan and South Korean companies.

* Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica and the Export-Import Bank of Korea signed an extension for an additional $200 million to an export credit facility framework agreement, which now totals $300 million.

* Juan Carlos Baker, Mexico's deputy minister for foreign trade, said the country and the European Union are working to finalize a new free trade agreement in 2017 that would be of "paramount" importance for Mexico, Reuters reported.

BRAZIL

* Brazil's financial system has been resilient during the country's economic crisis and risks in the short- and medium-terms have improved, Brazil's central bank said in its latest financial stability report. The central bank expects credit to continue declining in the short term, but also believes that the banking system is prepared for such a scenario and capable of adjusting to the increased risk.

* Morgan Stanley and Banco Bradesco BBI SA placed at the top of mergers and acquisitions rankings in Brazil for the first quarter, helped by their advisory role in iron ore producer Vale SA's $21 billion corporate restructuring, according to data from Thomson Reuters.

* Brazil recorded a $7.1 billion trade surplus in March, with exports reaching $20.1 billion and imports totaling $12.9 billion, Reuters reported, citing government data.

* The rising popularity of online banking in Brazil will make it easier for local banks to close branches, thereby reducing personnel and administrative costs, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported. The country's largest banks are expected to shutter more than 500 branches in 2017, up from 215 closings in 2016.

* Four of the largest banks in Brazil — Caixa Econômica Federal, Banco do Brasil SA, Banco Bradesco SA and Itaú Unibanco Holding SA — account for 79% of the country's credit market, Folha de S. Paulo reported, citing the central bank's latest financial stability report. The Brazilian financial system's liquidity index, meanwhile, increased to 2.36 in December 2016 from 2.10 in June 2016, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported.

* Anthero Meirelles, a director at Brazil's central bank, said the financial system's exposure to the troubled states of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Sul and Goiás stands at about 49.8 billion reais, which means banks have a capital requirement of 9.5 billion reais against that exposure, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported.

ANDEAN

* Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray criticized the cancellation of a meeting of the Organization of American States at which members were due to talk about political tensions in Venezuela, Reuters reported. Videgaray blamed Bolivia for the "unilateral" and "arbitrary" decision to call off the meeting. Bolivia, an ally of the Venezuelan government, assumed the chair of the organization's permanent council on April 3.

* Investors who bought Ecuador's dollar bonds expecting former banker Guillermo Lasso to emerge victorious in the country's presidential runoff started off-loading the bonds on April 3 after left-leaning rival Lenin Moreno claimed victory in the election, Bloomberg News reported. Lasso has demanded a recount, although the Organization of American States said international observers did not find proof of electoral fraud, The Wall Street Journal reported.

* The Mercosur trade bloc has applied its so-called democratic clause to Venezuela following an attempt by the country's Supreme Court to assume the powers of Congress, El Economista reported, citing Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra. Mercosur has called on the Venezuelan government to re-establish separation of powers and outline a timeframe for elections.

* Carlos Mauricio Iriarte, the former governor of Colombia's Huila province, has been tipped to become the new deputy chairman of Banco Agrario de Colombia SA, El Tiempo reported. Bank President Luis Enrique Dussán said a final decision has not been taken yet, and the report noted that some board members oppose the appointment of a politician to the post.

* Banco Colpatria Multibanca Colpatria SA President Santiago Perdomo said a decision taken by the bank a year ago to eliminate fees on savings accounts has helped the company gain 500,000 new customers, La República reported.

* The total supply of local currency in circulation in Venezuela reached 13.3 trillion bolivars as of March 24, 202.9% higher than a year ago, Reuters reported, citing central bank data. This marks the fastest rise in the country's money supply since records started in 1940.

SOUTHERN CONE

* Moody's withdrew the Ba3 global local currency and Aaa.ar national scale insurance financial strength ratings on Chubb Argentina de Seguros SA. The move follows regulatory approval of the merger of the subsidiaries of ACE and Chubb in Argentina.

* Thousands of Paraguayans held a peaceful protest outside Congress on April 3 in opposition to a Senate decision that allows President Horacio Cartes to seek re-election, Reuters reported. The decision still has to be ratified by the lower house.

* Federico Sturzenegger, the president of Argentina's central bank, reaffirmed the bank's strategy to keep interest rates at their current level until inflation is confirmed to be on a downward trend, La Nacion reported.

* MasterCard is preparing to launch a credit card network in partnership with Chilean payment service provider Multicaja in order to compete with Transbank SA, which currently dominates the market in Chile, Pulso reported. The network is expected to become operational by the third or fourth quarter.

PAN LATIN AMERICA

* The Inter-American Development Bank said countries in Latin America and the Caribbean need to move decisively toward a more integrated regional trade area, El Capital Financiero reported. This would help boost exports and encourage companies to increase productivity, the bank said.

* Integrated Latin American stock exchange MILA, which groups Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru, plans to launch a sustainable index near the end of 2017 in partnership with S&P Dow Jones Indices, the International Finance Corp. and RobecoSAM, El Economista reported.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

* Middle East & Africa: South Africa downgraded; European, African banks eye Moza Banco

* North America: Asset managers move to block Lone Star-Novo Banco deal

S&P Global Ratings and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.

Helen Popper contributed to this article.

The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 8:00 a.m. São Paulo time, and scans news sources published in English, Portuguese and Spanish. Some external links may require a subscription.