* Brazilian stocks and the real currency surged on Jan. 2 as new President Jair Bolsonaro's administration announced a series of measures to reduce the size of the state, Reuters and the Financial Times reported. Brazil's benchmark Bovespa stock index gained as much as 4.1% to reach a new high of 91,478.84 before dropping slightly to close up 3.6%. The real strengthened 2.4%, marking the currency's best day in more than seven months. The gains came as Economy Minister Paulo Guedes vowed to cut taxes and reform the country's generous social security system. Bloomberg News also carries a report.
* In a decree, Brazil's government confirmed Pedro Duarte Guimarães as the new president of state-run Caixa Econômica Federal, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported. Guimarães said the bank will reduce lending to large companies and will focus more on small enterprises and housing credit, Valor Econômico reported. He also said Caixa will look to hold initial public offerings for at least two of its subsidiaries in 2019, Reuters reported.
MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
* NR Finance México, S.A. de C.V., Sociedad Financiera de Objeto Múltiple, Entidad said Andrés Germán de la Parra Escandón will again serve as its director general. He held the same position between 2010 and 2015, the company said.
* Mexico's Instituto del Fondo Nacional de la Vivienda para los Trabajadores is looking to increase the number of housing loans it grants in 2019 by 5% compared to the previous year, El Economista reported.
* Remittance payments to Mexico totaled about $30.53 billion in the first 11 months of 2018, up 10.9% from the same period a year earlier, El Financiero reported, citing central bank data.
* JMMB Group Ltd. said Kisha Anderson resigned as country CEO for Jamaica, effective March 31. She will continue to serve as a board member at JMMB Insurance Brokers Ltd., JMMB Money Transfer, JMMB Fund Managers Ltd. and JMMB Investments Jamaica.
* Brazil's real GDP should expand by 2.2% and 2.7% in 2019 and 2020, respectively, Fitch Ratings said. Although appointments made by new President Jair Bolsonaro suggest the formation of a market-friendly economic team, Fitch believes "significant uncertainties remain" over the specific policies he will actually pursue.
* Banco Bradesco SA CEO Octavio de Lazari expects credit for individuals in Brazil's banking system to grow between 10% and 11% in 2019, Reuters reported.
* Banco do Brasil SA said Rubem de Freitas Novaes has been appointed president of the state-run bank through a decree issued by new Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Novaes' previous experience includes a director position at Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social.
* Bancolombia SA said it opened 1.1 million savings accounts through its mobile banking application in 2018, while granting 22,000 loans via the same app, La República reported.
* Argentina's tax revenue totaled about 319.92 billion pesos in December 2018, up 36% from a year earlier, Reuters reported, citing the Indec statistics agency.
* Carlos Hourbeigt has resigned as a director of Argentina's CNV securities commission to work on the 2019 presidential campaign of Roberto Lavagna, a former Argentine economy minister, El Cronista reported.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
* Asia-Pacific: Syndicate Bank, SBI Life ink bancassurance deal; IAG boosts catastrophe cover
* Middle East & Africa: Saudi's NCB, Riyad Bank seek merger advisers; Britam expects lower FY'18 result
* Europe: No deal for NordLB, Helaba; Ex-Deutsche Börse CEO settles; Carige administrators
Helen Popper contributed to this article.
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