* Incoming Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra, who is scheduled to take his oath of office today to replace Pedro Pablo Kucyznski, will also name a replacement for Prime Minister Mercedes Araoz, Reuters reported, citing "sources close to Vizcarra." Araoz will continue in her other post as vice president. However, an analyst said Vizcarra will only stay only in the position as an interim leader, as the main opposition party holds 59 seats in Congress, and Vizcarra's party only holds 15 seats, the Financial Times reported.
* Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social, or BNDES, has returned 30 billion Brazilian reais to the government ahead of its scheduled date in April, as part of a total 130 billion reais to be repaid in two tranches, Valor Econômico reported. The remaining 100 billion reais will be repaid around August, bank head Paulo Rabello de Castro said, but added the payment could be made either in July or September depending on BNDES' cash flow.
MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
* Mexican consumer price inflation through the first half of March was down 5.17% compared with 5.45% for the year through February, Reuters reported, citing data from statistics institute INEGI.
* Mexico's Promecap SA de CV raised $300 million in an initial public offering of equity securities on the local stock exchange, Reuters reported, citing a statement by the company. It said the capital would be used to make new investments.
* Mexico's new fintech legislation does not mention insurance tech firms, known in the industry as insurtech, but it could pave the way for a regulatory framework to foster innovation in the sector, El Economista reported, citing José Gerardo López Hoyo, vice president for research at the country's insurance commission.
* The board of Bradesco Leasing SA Arrendamento Mercantil has approved the resignation of Domingos Figueiredo de Abreu as deputy chief executive officer and Luiz Carlos Angelotti as managing director. Abreu and Angelotti face corruption charges in relation to the ongoing Operação Zelotes tax evasion probe in Brazil.
* Demand for consumer credit in Brazil fell 8.1% in February from the previous month on a seasonally adjusted basis but grew 8.0% compared with a year earlier, credit research firm Boa Vista SCPC said. In the 12 months through February, consumer credit demand edged 2.8% higher from the same period a year earlier.
* Carolina de Assis Barros was appointed head of the administrative division at the Brazilian central bank, replacing Maurício Moura. Moura will head institutional relations and citizenship, replacing Isaac Sidney.
* Brazil's Supreme Court suspended its hearing on former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's plea to not be sent to prison for a corruption conviction until he has exhausted all appeals, Reuters reported. The case restarts April 4, and until the top court hears the defense and finalizes its judgment, the former president cannot be jailed.
* Brazilian conglomerate Andrade Gutierrez SA is negotiating an operation with Banco BTG Pactual SA that would make the investment bank the company's largest creditor by assuming its roughly 1 billion reais in outstanding debts with Banco do Brasil SA and Banco Bradesco SA, Valor Econômico reported, citing "sources close to the talks." The proposal involves raising a new loan using shares in toll road operator CCR SA as collateral.
* Valeria Azconegui, a vice president-senior analyst for Moody's, said the resignation of Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski could affect local banks' growth prospects in the short term, as well as raise uncertainty about the future of the country, thereby cooling the economy and slowing down investments. However, the analyst said the impact on the financial sector could be limited if the political transition process is fluid, given the strong asset quality and profitability of the country's banks.
* Venezuela will remove three zeros from the bolivar in an effort to address hyperinflation, effective June 4, Reuters reported. The value of the currency will not be affected by the move, President Nicolas Maduro said.
* Credit to the private sector in Peru, which includes loans by banks, savings and loan cooperatives and finance companies, accelerated for an eighth consecutive month in February, increasing 7.3% year on year, Gestión reported, citing central bank data. Corporate credit grew 6.0% while loans to households rose 9.6%.
* Sura Asset Management SA's sale of its annuities business in Chile to BICECORP SA and Inversiones BICE Chileconsult SA is credit positive for the company, as the sale will allow it to place a greater focus on its core wealth management business, Moody's said in a report. The transaction is expected to close before the end of 2018, subject to regulatory approval. The deal is worth $232 million.
* Chile looks set to become the first South American country to join the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Pulso reported. Congress must first approve the country's membership in the multilateral lender, which the bank's leaders hope will happen before the end of the year.
* Chile's new government is still looking for a new head of the SBIF banking industry supervisor to replace Eric Parrado, who was appointed by former President Michelle Bachelet, Diario Financiero reported, citing "sources close to the ruling party." The newspaper said finding a replacement would not be easy and noted that Parrado is close to Finance Minister Felipe Larrain.
* Uruguay's central bank recorded growth of 2% for the fourth quarter of 2017 and 2.7% for the full year, Reuters reported.
* Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank, signed a $500 million financing accord with Argentine Finance Minister Luis Caputo for four projects linked to infrastructure, financial inclusion and modernizing state institutions, La Nación reported.
* Argentine banks are tapping the local capital market for fresh funds to maintain buoyant credit growth, Clarín reported. It said Banco Macro SA planned to issue $800 million in negotiable obligations, while HSBC Bank Argentina SA was seeking to raise 5 billion Argentine pesos. Banco Mariva SA, meanwhile, sold 300 million pesos in local debt, and Banco de Servicios y Transacciones SA is preparing an 80 million-peso capital boost.
* Argentina's courts have started bankruptcy proceedings on Banco Finansur SA, weeks after the central bank said Banco de Galicia y Buenos Aires SA will absorb Finansur's assets and liabilities, La Nación reported. The courts have already lifted an asset freeze, allowing the bank's assets and its 100 staff members to be transferred to Galicia.
* Banco de Galicia y Buenos Aires SA is poised to become the first Argentine bank to issue a green bond with the sale of $100 million earmarked for sustainable projects, El Cronista reported. The International Finance Corporation will subscribe the totality of the debt sale.
PAN LATIN AMERICA
* Chile argued before the World Court in The Hague that it is not required to negotiate with Bolivia to grant the latter access to the Pacific Ocean, Reuters reported. Chilean President Sebastian Piñera commented that the matter had already been settled under a 1904 peace treaty between the two.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
* Asia-Pacific: Asian central banks respond to US Fed hike; AXA names Thai ops CEO
* Middle East & Africa: Qatar Central Bank hikes deposit rate; Equity Group posts FY'17 profit rise
* Europe: Aviva abandons preference share plan; Basel cuts forex capital requirements
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Helen Popper contributed to this article.
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