* Colombia's central bank on Friday cut its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 7.0%. Central bank Governor Juan José Echavarría said base inflation continues to hover around 5% while analysts’ expectation over the economy are recovering, La República reported.
* Banco Indusval SA reported a net loss of 28.8 million Brazilian reais for the fourth quarter of 2016, widening from a 17.4 million reais loss a year earlier. The results came as the bank saw a 5.9% drop in income from financial intermediation, along with an 11.1% rise in personnel and administrative expenses. The company also showed 27.6 million reais in loan loss allowance expenses, which compares to a 1.5 million reais allowance reversal a year ago.
MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
* While the theme of Mexico's annual banking convention was "liberalism versus populism," Reuters reports on the lack of representation of populists at the event. While current president Enrique Peña Nieto and some high-level ministers were invited to the event, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the likely 2018 presidential contender, was not. "You have to be balanced and objective. Putting liberalism as all good and populism as all bad doesn't represent what all banks want," Raul Martinez-Ostos, CEO of Barclays Bank México, reportedly said.
* Meanwhile, Grupo Financiero Santander Mexico SAB de CV Chairman Marcos Martínez was elected president of Mexico's national banking association, El Financiero reported. Speaking at the end of the country’s 80th banking convention, Martínez said Mexican banks will continue to work to defeat money laundering and client theft.
* Mexico is considering removing taxes on corn imports from Argentina and Brazil to combat a possible loss of tax-exempt imports from the U.S. under NAFTA, the Financial Times reported. Currently, 98% of Mexico's corn comes from the U.S., but that could change with U.S. President Donald Trump looking to renegotiate its North American trade agreement.
* Chinese companies may see new investment opportunities in Mexico as a result of U.S.-Mexico trade relations, Reuters reported, citing comments from Yaogang Chen, the head of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Mexico SA. The Chinese bank unit is hoping to see a tenfold growth in its Mexican assets and loan portfolio over the next three years. China's BAIC Motor Corp. Ltd. reportedly is also considering building an industrial plant in Mexico.
* Brazil is considering a measure in Congress that would disallow banks from charging fees on bank accounts that are inactive for more than 120 days, O Globo reported. A bill was already approved by the country's chamber of deputies.
* Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social plans to start a new fund that will lend to start-up companies, Folha de São Paulo reported. The fund will have an expected 200 million Brazilian reais, though the development banks' level of participation in the fund is still unclear.
* BTG Pactual Group founder and former chief executive André Esteves has retained his 30% stake in the bank, which has annoyed some bank partners who expected his ownership position to decline following a meritocratic shareholder rebalancing, Valor Econômico reported. Esteves' 2015 arrest over suspected ties to Brazil's wide-ranging Lava Jato scandal spurred a liquidity crisis at BTG that nearly sank the bank.
* Only 10% of Brazilians who withdrew money from a workers' social fund known as FGTS say they are going to spend the money, O Globo reported, citing a survey. The measure of freeing up the funds was in part agreed upon to stimulate the economy.
* Brazilian central bank chief Ilan Goldfajn said the economy is going in the right direction, regardless of the pace of recovery, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported. "We have a lot to do, a lot of reform, a lot of adjustment, [but] relief comes from the fact that we are not walking backwards," he reportedly said.
* Peruvian central bank governor Julio Velarde said the regulator will do everything in its power to alleviate the macroeconomic effects of widespread flooding in the northern part of the country caused by El Niño, El Comercio reported. The central bank will reduce bank reserve requirements to 5% from 6%, a measure that should make 540 million soles available for lending.
* Member countries of the Organization of American States will discuss Venezuela's problems in a meeting in the U.S. set for the week of April 3, The Wall Street Journal reported. The group warned it may suspend Venezuela form the group as a last resort, though some observers believe such a move unlikely, as a suspension will require a two-thirds majority vote from the 34 members.
* Fitch affirmed Peru's long-term foreign and local currency issuer default ratings at BBB+ and A-, respectively, citing its strong macro policy that continues to support financial and economic stability. It also affirmed the sovereign's short-term foreign and local currency issuer default ratings at F2 and F1, respectively.
* HSBC Bank Argentina SA will look to double the size of its leasing business in Argentina by scaling up its business to both SMEs and large corporates, El Cronista reported, citing the bank’s head of corporate business in Argentina, Patricia Bindi. The executive noted that the bank currently has a 6.25% market share in Argentina's leasing market, and is looking to once again become a market leader, as it was nearly a decade ago.
* The Asociación para la Defensa de Usuarios y Consumidores filed a class action lawsuit against Banco de Galicia y Buenos Aires SA over a maintenance fee for credit card accounts, parent company Grupo Financiero Galicia SA said. Banco de Galicia is analyzing the lawsuit but does not expect an unfavorable resolution will significantly impact shareholders' equity.
* Banco del Estado de Chile will finance a series of start-up companies, Diario Financiero reported. The Chilean state-owned bank launched a new entrepreneurship platform that will look to provide financing and other support to some 2,000 entrepreneurs by 2018.
* Chilean retailer Ripley, which owns Banco Ripley, plans to get more of its customers to take out its MasterCard credit card, La Tercera said. The retail company is also considering offering bank accounts and debit cards.
* Chilean presidential candidate Sebastian Pinera said he will not lower taxes because of the size of the fiscal deficit that is currently affecting the South American country, Pulso reported.
* Argentina will lead Latin American economic growth rates in 2017 with an expected 3.2% expansion, La Tercera reported citing economists from BTG Pactual. Chile, Mexico and Brazil are also expected to show growth this year.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia Pacific: CBL seeks nod for US insurer buy; Sri Lanka raises key rates
Middle East & Africa: Capitec's 1st foreign foray; Goldman in Saudi license talks
Europe: Old Mutual sells AM stake; HSBC to hire 1,000 staff; Co-op receives interest
Matthew Craze 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.