* Bancolombia SA's second-quarter 2019 profit surged 58.22% year over year to 936.19 billion Colombian pesos from 591.72 billion pesos. Net fees and income from services grew 10.58% annually to 754.61 billion pesos, while other operating income rose 7.26% to 335.75 billion pesos. Net provisions fell 15.82% to 815.68 billion pesos.
* IRB-Brasil Resseguros SA signed a 10-year operational reinsurance agreement with online bank Banco C6 SA and C6 Corretora de Seguros Ltda., under which IRB will serve as the main reinsurer for credit life insurance offered on the C6 platform. IRB also signed an agreement to subscribe for 8.93% of capital in Swiss blockchain firm B3i Services AG, for €3.5 million.
MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
* Data from Mexican pensions regulator Consar showed that pension funds invested eight times more in government debt in the 12 months through June compared to the year-ago period, Reuters reported. In the year through June, bond purchases increased by 377.9 billion pesos, bringing the total to 1.99 trillion pesos during the period.
* Mexico's lower-than-expected oil revenue, combined with economic underperformance relative to budget assumptions, is pressuring the country's budget framework, Fitch Ratings said. The Mexican Finance Ministry recently lowered its 2019 real GDP growth forecast to 1.1% from 1.6%, after the economy expanded 0.1% and dodged a technical recession.
* Mexican Finance Minister Arturo Herrera Gutiérrez told El Financiero in an interview that the central bank should work to consolidate its autonomy and maintain its focus on keeping inflation under control. He said it was not the right time to discuss a so-called "dual mandate" in Mexico. On July 29, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador suggested Banxico should serve a dual role of controlling inflation and sustaining economic growth.
* Savers hit by a multimillion-dollar fraud at Mexican credit union Ficrea have filed a case against officials at banking regulator CNBV for allegedly failing to intervene in the fraud in a timely manner, El Economista reported. A similar attempt in 2015 was dismissed for lack of evidence.
* Banco Central do Brasil's recent decision to lower its benchmark Selic rate to a record-low 6.0% is credit negative for local banks as it will weigh on their net interest margins, according to Moody's. It will also further reduce revenue from banks' investments in government securities and trading, which represented 27% of their total revenues in March, already down from 35% as of December 2016.
* Economists surveyed by Brazil's central bank forecast the benchmark Selic rate will stand at 5.25% at year-end 2019, down from the previous week's 5.50% forecast, Reuters reported. Median expectations for inflation were kept at 3.80% for 2019 and 3.90% for 2020.
* Indebtedness among Brazilians rose to its highest level in three years, as households' debt-to-income ratio hit 44.0% in May this year, higher than 41.9% in May 2018 and just slightly under the 44.2% in April 2016, according to data from the Brazilian central bank. The share of income committed to pay debt was at 20.3%, almost flat from 20.2% a year earlier.
* Banco ABC Brasil SA revised its expanded credit portfolio growth guidance for 2019 to between 6% and 10%, well below its previous estimate of 11% to 15%. The bank's expanded loan portfolio for the second quarter grew 6.9% year over year to 27.06 billion reais. Annual income increased 18.9% annually to 132.7 million reais.
* IRB-Brasil Resseguros SA raised its guidance for growth in written premiums for 2019, to a range of 20% to 27%, from the previous range of 17% to 24%.
* Luiz Marcelo Calicchio, a founding partner at Brazilian online bank C6, said 200,000 clients signed up with the entity on its first day of operations on Aug. 5, and it is eyeing at least double that figure by the end of 2019, Reuters reported. C6 was founded by BTG Pactual alumni.
* Brazilian legislator Marcel van Hattem, a member of key government ally New Party, said the lower house of the National Congress could start voting on a pension reform bill later today, Reuters reported. The vote might wrap up by late Wednesday. The Senate vote is scheduled between Sept. 20 and Sept. 30, O Estado de S. Paulo reported, citing presidential Chief of Staff Onyx Lorenzoni.
* Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's economic team wants to overhaul the management of the FGTS workers' severance fund, aiming to improve the selection of projects funded by the FGTS, diversify its portfolio and possibly end Caixa Econômica Federal's monopoly on managing the fund, Reuters reported, quoting Igor Villas Boas, director of the Economy Ministry's FGTS department.
* Banco do Brasil SA said it would make 4.5 billion reais in funds from the PIS-Pasep social contribution fund available for withdrawals from Aug. 19 as part of the government's initiative to allow beneficiaries to use the money, O Estado de S. Paulo reported.
* The U.S. froze all Venezuelan government-owned assets in the U.S. in a bid to pressure President Nicolas Maduro out of office, Reuters reported. The asset freeze will prevent the Venezuelan government's assets from being "transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in," the executive order from the White House read. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton also said China and Russia should not offer further support to Venezuela as the Andean nation may be unable to repay the two countries if Maduro leaves office.
* Peru's government is set to lower its 2019 GDP growth forecast in the coming weeks, but the country's economy is still on track to be one of South America's best performers, EFE reported, citing Finance Minister Carlos Oliva. The government cut its GDP growth outlook to 3.7% from 4.2% in June. Meanwhile, a Reuters poll found most analysts expected the central bank to cut its benchmark rate this month by 25 basis points due to the worsening economic climate.
* Banco de Crédito del Perú sold ¥5 billion in debt in the Japanese market last week, the bank's second bond sale in the country but the first issue in yen by a Peruvian financial institution, SEMANAeconómica reported, citing bank executive Pablo Hurtado.
* Peru's government has published its financial inclusion targets for the coming years, which include ensuring that 75% of the population has a savings account by 2030, SEMANAeconómica reported. About 41% of Peruvians currently use at least one savings product.
* Colombian financing firm Finsocial SAS expects its credit portfolio to rise to 500 billion pesos by year-end, up from 350 billion at the end of the first half as growth accelerates in the coming months, La República reported, citing CEO Santiago Botero. Finsocial is focused on providing loans to pensioners and public sector teachers.
* Chile's government unveiled draft legislation that would make it easier for bank customers to switch their accounts and loans to other institutions, aiming to reduce bank charges and increase competition, in turn bringing down interest rates in the longer term, Diario Financiero reported.
* Chilean financial technology firm Fintual, which launched a year ago as a fund manager, aims to end 2019 with $50 million in assets under management and start operating as an investment bank for retail clients, Diario Financiero reported. The company is also planning to start operating in other countries including Mexico and aims to raise $4 million in financing during a visit this month to Silicon Valley.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
* Middle East & Africa: Banque Saudi Fransi Q2 profit rises; IPO of Egypt's Fawry oversubscribed
* Europe: HSBC cutting jobs, reaches €300M settlement; Novo Banco selling €795.8M loans
* North America: FIS Q2 adjusted EPS climbs YOY; JPMorgan confirms Chinese JV majority stake
Helen Popper contributed to this article.
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