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Itaú Unibanco's Q2 profit rises; US sanctions Maduro

* Itaú Unibanco Holding SA reported recurring net income of 6.17 billion Brazilian reais for the second quarter, up about 10.7% from 5.58 billion reais a year earlier. Other operating expenses were up 1.0% to 13.22 billion reais, but provisions for loan losses dropped 21.9% annually to 4.95 billion reais.

* The U.S. government imposed sanctions against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and froze all of his assets that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction, following elections for a constituent assembly that would rewrite Venezuela's constitution. The U.S. also barred its citizens from transacting with Maduro, but it did not announce oil-related sanctions.


* Mexico posted real GDP growth of 3% year over year for the second quarter of 2017, and was up 0.6% from the first quarter, El Economista reported, citing seasonally adjusted data from statistics agency INEGI. Luis Madrazo, chief economist for Mexico's finance ministry, noted that depending on final data for the second quarter, the government may raise its GDP forecast for full year 2017, Reuters reported separately.

* In a macroeconomic report, Banco Central de Costa Rica lowered the country's growth estimate for 2017 to 3.8% from 4.1%, citing a slowdown in the service industry. However, the central bank also lowered the current account deficit projection for 2017 to 3.8% of GDP, from the 4.4% forecast made in December 2016, and maintained the inflation target range at between 2% and 4%.

* Mexico appointed Kenneth Smith to head its renegotiation team for the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA, Reuters reported. Smith is currently a director at Mexico's embassy in the U.S., working in its Trade and NAFTA Office.

* Mexico's CIBanco SA Institución de Banca Múltiple and Banco Nacional de México SA Integrante del Grupo Financiero Banamex both raised their forecasts for the country's economic growth in 2017, El Economista reported. CIBanco increased its 2017 forecast to 2.3% from 2.0%, while Citibanamex boosted its outlook to 2.0% from 1.7%.

* Grupo Financiero Ve por Más SA de C.V. announced that it had reached a deal to buy online bank Bankaool SA Institución de Banca Múltiple, without putting a figure on the purchase. Grupo Financiero Ve por Más said the takeover would be part of its 2020 growth strategy and thus consolidate its position in agribusiness. S&P Global Ratings also put the long and short-term counterparty credit ratings of Bankaool on CreditWatch with developing implications after Grupo Financiero Ve por Más announced its intention to buy the bank.

* Mexico's banking and securities regulator imposed 291.2 million pesos in fines on the country's financial entities in the first half of 2017, El Economista reported, with banks paying more than half of the fines.

* Bank credit to Mexico's private sector grew by 7.1% in June compared with the same month in 2016, reaching 3.8 trillion Mexican pesos, El Economista reported, citing data published by Banco de México.


* Banco de Reservas de la República Dominicana Banco de Servicios Múltiples and Banco Múltiple BHD León SA have signed a deal to launch the largest privately-owned ATM network in the country, which will include 1,300 ATMs nationwide.


* Banco Santander (Brasil) SA CEO Sérgio Rial said the bank aims to grow its fee income by at least 10% through end-2018 amid efforts to build its customer base, such as offering digital services, Reuters reported. Rial added that the bank plans to reduce the profit gap over its rivals by focusing on the card, payroll, agribusiness and small business segments, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported separately.

* Online brokerage XP Investimentos and Itaú Unibanco Holding SA have told Brazil's anti-trust watchdog that Itaú's purchase of a minority stake in XP will help stimulate market competition for independent investment platforms, Valor Econômico reported.

* The number of indebted Brazilian households rose in July from the previous month to 57.1% from 56.4%, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported, citing data from the National Confederation of Commerce of Goods, Services and Tourism.

* Brazilian workers with serious health problems and prisoners will have until Dec. 31, 2018 to withdraw money from inactive accounts of the FGTS workers' severance fund, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported, citing Caixa Econômica Federal.


* Intelligence agents in Venezuela allegedly took opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma into custody from house arrest, Reuters reported, citing their relatives. Meanwhile, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro threatened to jail opposition members who denounced the election results, The Wall Street Journal reported separately.

* The costs of using credit cards and maintaining deposit accounts rose more slowly in Colombia in the first half of 2017 while the charges levied on internet banking transactions increased at a faster pace, El Tiempo reported, citing the banking costs index of the country's financial association.


* Banco de Chile reported second-quarter net income of 159.82 billion Chilean pesos, up 5.9% year-over-year from 150.99 billion pesos. The annual rise came on the back of a 4.0% annual drop in total operating expenses to 197.40 billion pesos, and a 33.2% drop in provisions for loan losses to 62.10 billion pesos.

* Itaú CorpBanca reported recurring net income attributable to shareholders of 49.52 billion Chilean pesos for the second quarter of 2017, down 8.6% from 54.16 billion pesos in the year-ago period. Net interest income was down 1.4% year over year to 192.80 billion pesos, while net fee and commission income fell 12.7% to 40.80 billion pesos. Meanwhile, results from loan losses grew 19.4% to 68.70 billion pesos, while operating expenses were up 12.0% to 150.49 billion pesos.

* The Chilean banking sector's net profit hit 193.20 billion Chilean pesos in June, down 16.58% from May due to lower net margins in financial operation results and in other net operating income, according to banking regulator SBIF. The monthly drop was also accentuated by a one-off variation in other net operating revenues at Itaú CorpBanca, which recorded a provision for contingencies with other operating income.

* Banco Central de la República Argentina has admitted for the first time that meeting its 17% target for annual inflation this year will be "difficult," La Nación reported, citing comments by the monetary authority's second vice president, Demian Reidel. However, he reiterated the central bank's message that the country is undergoing disinflation.

* The wages of banking sector staff in Uruguay have risen by as much as 30% since last year due to a series of wage negotiations and a wage adjustment deal signed in 2014, El Observador reported. It said wages in the sector that had been depressed prior to the agreement had risen the most.

* José Maciel, head of Paraguay's Agencia Financiera de Desarrollo (AFD), said the state development bank aims to grant more than $1.50 billion in loans by the end of 2017, La Nacion reported. After 11 years of operations, the lender has already disbursed about $1.45 billion in credits to different economic sectors.


* S&P Global Ratings warned that Latin American corporates will remain troubled by political uncertainty, particularly the threat of U.S. protectionist policies. It also cautioned against an all-time-high downgrade potential of 45%, and sees profitability declining gradually. However, lower capital expenditures and more conservative financial profiles have also led to lower leverage among corporates in 2016, and commodity prices will remain "fairly attractive," which should cushion their 2017 performance.


* Asia-Pacific: Mitsubishi UFJ arm eyes acquisitions; Mirae Asset to infuse capital into US unit

* Middle East & Africa: Qatar brings case to WTO; Moody's takes actions on Omani, Bahraini banks

* Europe: Sabadell completes US unit sale; Direct Line, Man Group H1 profits up YOY

* North America: JPMorgan to launch AI robot in Asia, US; 2 California banks ink $51M 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.