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Chile maintains key rate; Costa Rica parliament OKs merger of state-owned banks


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Chile maintains key rate; Costa Rica parliament OKs merger of state-owned banks

* Chile's central bank kept the interest rate unchanged at 2.5%, but it has hinted at possible rate hikes "in the coming months." Annual consumer price inflation went up to 2.7% in July from 2.5% in June. The central bank projects inflation to reach 3% over the two-year horizon.

* The Costa Rican parliament approved the merger between Banco Crédito Agrícola de Cartago, or Bancredito, and Banco de Costa Rica, or BCR, El Financiero reported. BCR will absorb a business portfolio valued at $4 million and equity of 32.00 billion colones, but also a debt of 134.00 billion colones from Bancredito.


* Moody's gave a stable outlook to the Mexican banking system, based on banks' continued strong fundamentals, with strong profitability and capital buffers supporting their robust asset quality, despite a slight rise in consumer segment delinquencies. High lending rates and access to low-cost deposits will also anchor banks' earnings, Moody's added, estimating return on assets of about 1.7%.

* Fitch Ratings forecasts a slower growth of Guatemala's largest banks in the second semester of 2018. These entities, which will continue to base their growth on corporate loans, suffered a deterioration of their assets in the first half of the year as credit slowed and consumer loans matured.

* Panama-based Banco Delta SA will issue two series of corporate bonds totaling $4.0 million. The series AH bonds are worth $2.0 million, have a 6.25% interest rate and a term of four years, while the series AI bonds are also worth $2.0 million with a 6.50% interest rate and a five-year term. The funds raised in both public offerings will be used to pay off loans and finance the growth of the business.


* Banco do Brasil SA expects to reach 2 billion reais in investments through its investments simulator mobile app by the end of the year, according to an Estadão report carried by Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços. This tool was launched in September 2017 and has attracted so far 1.2 billion reais from small investors.

* Itaú Unibanco SA, a subsidiary of Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, entered into a strategic partnership with holding company Edenred Brasil Participações S/A, under which the parent Itaú will invest 11% in Edenred's subsidiary Ticket Serviços SA The investment will be performed through a capital increase to be paid in cash.

* Brazil's Caixa Seguridade Participações SA has 14 companies interested in operating the insurance branches not included in the agreement signed last week with French insurer CNP Assurances SA, Valor Econômico reported, citing a source close to the matter. The segments for which the company seeks partners include housing insurance, credit cards, automobiles and property risks.


* RCI Colombia SA Compania De Financiamiento has named Diogo Novo as its new CEO, replacing José Luis Medina del Rio, who will take on the CEO role at regional sister unit RCI Argentina.

* Juan Jose Echavarria, president of the Colombian central bank, said that the regulator will not step into the currency market, "even if we have a devaluation of 10% or 15%," Reuters reported. Echavarria added he does not expect the regulator will raise the benchmark either, but "a lot depends on the exchange rate."


* Banco Santander Chile placed a bond in the Swiss market for CHF115 million, carrying a term of five years and three months. It has a spread of 55 basis points above the mid-swap, equivalent to a fixed interest of 0.441%.

* Banco Macro SA reacquired 1,281,604 common book-entry class B shares at an average acquisition price of 147.689 Argentine pesos per share. It spent about 189.3 million pesos in total.

* Chilean financial sector executives told Diario Financiero that around two-thirds of cyberattacks come from ex-workers of the affected companies. The solution, according to these executives, would be to make an inventory of company data and revoke the access of former employees to the same.


* Fitch Ratings revised its outlook for the global reinsurance sector to stable from negative, saying that return on capital in the industry will likely be more modest but less volatile than before. The rating agency expects credit fundamentals in the sector to continue reflecting strong pricing competition and low investment yields, which will continue to restrict profitability.

* Moody's said its outlook for the global reinsurance sector remains stable for the next 12 to 18 months, supported by strong balance sheets, increasing profits, and sector consolidation through merger and acquisition activity. Weak pricing power during the mid-year reinsurance renewals indicates it may be more difficult to maintain pricing gains moving into the key January 2019 renewals, the rating agency said.

* Brazilian Foreign Minister Aloysio Ferreira warned that a deal between the Mercosur trading bloc in Latin America and the European Union may be jeopardized by upcoming elections in the two continents if both parties fail to sign a trade accord at a meeting scheduled from Sept. 10 to 14, the Financial Times reported. "If not, you could have to wait another five or six years," the official reportedly said.


* Asia-Pacific: Tokyo Century may raise Indonesian bank stake; Philippines OKs Axa/XL Group deal

* Middle East & Africa: Citigroup snaps up Leumi stake; South Africa slips into recession

* Europe: EU money laundering shortcomings; TSB Pester's £1.7M in spotlight

* Global Markets: Trade worries, emerging-market turmoil rattle global equities

Pablo Jiménez Arandia contributed to this article.

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