The most read financial stories in S&P Global Market Intelligence's Asia-Pacific coverage include the South Korean president's offer to resign, while editors' picks feature the South Korean parliament's decision to impeach the president.
1. South Korean president to step down in April 2017 amid calls for impeachment
South Korean President Park Geun-hye agreed to resign in April 2017 as protests mount against her over an influence-peddling scandal. Park reached the agreement with her party after opposition lawmakers said they might have ample votes for her impeachment.
2. Fitch: Outlook on Chinese banking sector in 2017 is negative
Fitch Ratings said that its outlook on China's banking sector in 2017 is negative as lenders' weak profitability and strong credit growth will keep capitalization under pressure. Fitch believes leverage in the sector will continue to rise given the reliance on credit to support China's GDP growth targets.
3. Fairfax Financial to buy 51% stake in India's Catholic Syrian Bank
Catholic Syrian Bank Ltd. confirmed that a unit of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. will acquire a 51% stake in the bank for 10 billion rupees. The proposed deal is expected to be completed by March 2017.
4. Sumitomo Mitsui Banking to expand ops in Mexico
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. plans to bolster its operations in Mexico as it expects Japanese companies to continue to expand into the country over the medium- to long-term. The company plans to boost the lending ability of its local-currency lending unit in Mexico, SMBC SOFOM, by raising its capital over 12 months to 1.46 billion Mexican pesos.
5. Moody's lowers 2017 global life insurance outlook to negative
Moody's changed its outlook on the global life insurance sector to negative from stable for 2017, owing to continued low interest rates around the world and heightened geopolitical risks. Moody's expects historically low rates to be the primary credit risk for life insurers in 2017 amid interest rates rising following the U.S presidential election.
1. Chinese regulators exert pressure on insurers' investment strategy
China's insurance companies have come under greater scrutiny from the country's insurance and securities regulators with regard to their aggressive investment strategies, with some facing regulatory action to curb risky behavior. China Securities Regulatory Commission characterized some asset managers as "noxious" for their "barbaric" stake buyouts.
2. Japan's life insurers cautious on yen decline over US policy uncertainty
Most of Japan's nine major life insurers are keeping their forecasts for lower profits and thinner margins in the year ending March 31, 2017, unchanged, despite a drop in the yen's value following the U.S. presidential elections. Seven major insurers, including market leaders Nippon Life Insurance Co. and Dai-ichi Life Holdings Inc., have forecast their basic profit to fall in the current fiscal year.
3. South Korean parliament passes bill to impeach president
South Korea's National Assembly on Dec. 9 passed a bill to oust President Park Geun-hye with 234 out of 299 votes in favor of the move, including 62 votes from the country's ruling party. Following the decision, Park was immediately suspended from state affairs, with Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn temporarily taking the reins of the country.
4. Shenzhen-Hong Kong bourse link sees muted sentiment on maiden trading day
The new mutual market access program between Shenzhen and Hong Kong appears unlikely to draw long-only funds and institutional investors in the near term, after failing to generate much excitement on both borders on the first day of trading through the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect. The link-up between the two bourses did not do much to stimulate the stock market.