* S&P Global Ratings expects its outlook for Asia-Pacific financial institutions to remain "largely stable" in the second half. The rating agency said most banks would likely be able to absorb a moderate downturn in the current credit cycle, but warned that an abrupt downturn would inevitably result in negative ratings momentum.
* The Hong Kong Monetary Authority slashed its base rate by 25 basis points to 2.50%, effective immediately. The decision follows the U.S. Federal Reserve's downward adjustment of its benchmark rate by 25 basis points.
* Wang Yong, chief risk officer of Everbright Securities Co. Ltd., has resigned from his post, Caixin reported, citing multiple sources.
* Wind Information Co. Ltd. said China has issued 2.39 trillion yuan worth of new local government debt so far in 2019, accounting for more than three quarters of the total debt quota for the year, the 21st Century Business Herald reported.
* Two digital banks that received licenses from Taiwan's financial regulator plan to begin operations in the second quarter of 2020, the Taipei Times reported. Next Bank, backed by Chunghwa Telecom, said it would focus on retail banking and hire more employees before it begins operations. Rakuten International Commercial Bank plans to use the artificial intelligence system of Japan's Rakuten Inc., which owns the bank in partnership with Taiwan's IBF Financial Holdings Co. Ltd..
JAPAN AND KOREA
* Japan's Government Pension Investment Fund is adding currency hedges for the first time, Bloomberg News reported. The world's largest pension fund, which oversees US$1.46 trillion, said it was buying overseas bonds with hedges against possible yen fluctuations.
* Seven & i Holdings Co. Ltd. said it would shut down online payment platform SevenPay by the end of September, citing security concerns, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported. A total of 808 users were impacted by the platform's security issues, with damages of about ¥38.6 million so far since the service was introduced July 1.
* Woori Financial Group Inc. said it completed the acquisition of Tongyang Asset Management Corp. and renamed the company Woori Asset Management Corp. Woori Financial acquired the asset manager from China's Anbang Insurance Group Co. Ltd.
* Thailand-based Bitkub Online Co. Ltd. signed a memorandum of understanding with Malaysian cryptocurrency exchange OKEx to connect the Thai digital asset market to global investors, Krungthep Turakij reported.
* Indonesia's Financial Services Authority is looking to relax guidelines that require banks' domestic operations to be run by a single entity, in a bid to strengthen the financial sector against increased competition from fintech firms, Bloomberg News reported.
* RHB Bank Bhd. appointed Rakesh Kaul group head for retail banking, effective Aug. 1, The Star reported, citing the Malaysian bank. Kaul was hired from Citigroup Inc., where he was Asia-Pacific head of retail commercial banking.
* Manila-based BDO Leasing & Finance Inc. posted a net loss of 4.7 million pesos for the second quarter ended June, compared to a net profit of 177.9 million pesos in the prior-year period. The BDO Unibank Inc. subsidiary partly attributed the results to compressed margins as it saw its short-term liabilities adjust faster to current interest rates compared to lease receivables.
* Vietnam's state-owned banks are cutting interest rates in response to the government's call to support priority sectors, including businesses in export and advanced technology, Viet Nam News reported. JSCB for Investment and Development of Vietnam and Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam lowered interest rates on local-currency loans by 1 percentage point to a maximum annual rate of 5.5%. The banks had earlier reduced the rate by five basis points, together with peers Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry & Trade and Vietnam Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development.
* The Reserve Bank of India has included Bank of China Ltd. in its second schedule list of banks, allowing the Chinese lender to offer regular banking services such deposits and loans. The Indian central bank said in a separate release that National Australia Bank Ltd. ceased to be a banking company and had been removed from its second schedule.
* Bank of India said it was fined 15 million rupees by the central bank for noncompliance with the regulator's direction regarding fraud in the Rotomac group of companies. The bank said it was given 14 days to settle the fine.
* Punjab National Bank plans to lower its gross nonperforming assets ratio to below 12% by March 2020 from 16% as of the quarter ended June, the Press Trust of India reported, citing Managing Director Sunil Mehta. The bank expects to recover about 7 billion rupees of loans from troubled companies Essar Steel and Bhushan Power & Steel before the end of the fiscal year.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* UBS and JP Morgan have downgraded Commonwealth Bank of Australia's shares to "sell" citing an inflated share value amid an ultra-low interest rate environment and a potential increase in capital requirement for its New Zealand subsidiary, The Australian Financial Review reported.
* National Australia Bank has paid the most compensation to clients for bad advice, with the amount reaching A$32.4 million as of June 30, data from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission showed. In total, the country's five largest banking financial services companies have paid A$119.7 million in compensation as of the end of June.
* The Australian government has passed the Consumer Data Right legislation, which would require financial institutions to make credit and debit card data as well as other financial transactions available to customers to be used when switching to a different financial company, The Australian reported. The new regime will take effect by the end of August and the implementation will begin in February 2020.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Middle East & Africa: Emirates NDB closes DenizBank deal; Old Mutual to appeal ex-CEO's reinstatement
Europe: LSE-Refinitiv deal; StanChart's gloomy outlook; restructuring weighs on SocGen
Latin America: Brazil cuts Selic rate to 6%; Mexico slashes 2019 GDP growth forecast
North America: S&P reports higher adjusted EPS YOY in Q2; Big US banks cut benchmark rates
Global Insurance: Capital One hack may cause $400M payout; Cigna earnings; next step for Genworth
R Sio, Sally Wang, Sarun Saelee, Cathy Hwang, Emi White and Aditya Suharmoko contributed to this report.
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Descriptions of credit ratings in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings. The original S&P Global Ratings document referred to in this news brief can be found here.