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Peru maintains rate; Fitch cuts Ecuador outlook; Cuba replaces finance minister

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Peru maintains rate; Fitch cuts Ecuador outlook; Cuba replaces finance minister

* Peru's central bank held its benchmark monetary policy rate at 2.75% as inflation and price expectations stayed within the target range. The central bank also cited signs of stronger economic growth in the last quarter of 2018 despite persistent risks linked to global tensions.

* Fitch Ratings changed Ecuador's outlook to negative from stable as it warned against the country's relatively large financing needs and uncertain access to funding sources. Fitch also affirmed the country's long-term foreign and local currency issuer default ratings at B.

* Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel named Meisi Bolaños and Eduardo Rodriguez as finance and transport ministers, respectively, Reuters reported. They replace Lina Pedraza and Adel Yzquierdo, who will reportedly be given "other responsibilities."

MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA

* Mexico's government aims to expand access to financial services by obliging recipients of a range of new state welfare benefits to have a basic bank account, El Economista reported. It noted that nearly 100,000 new accounts had been opened between August 2017 and August 2018 for recipients of a benefit for senior citizens.

BRAZIL

* Shareholders of Companhia de Seguros Alianca da Bahia appointed Silvano Gianni to be the company's chairman. Meanwhile, José Maria Souza Teixeira Costa and Manoel Eduardo Pedreira Torres were named as vice chairman and board member, respectively.

* Moody's believes that operational streamlining plans announced by the new CEOs of state-run Brazilian lenders Caixa Econômica Federal and Banco do Brasil SA are credit positive because they sharpen the banks' focus on business segments that are highly relevant to earnings. The plans include the disposal of noncore assets, the repayment of debt owed to Brazil's national treasury and a strengthening of cost controls.

* Banco Santander (Brasil) SA executive Roberto Campos Neto will temporarily serve as an adviser to Brazil's Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, pending confirmation of the former's nomination to become chief of the central bank, Valor Econômico reported, citing a source familiar with the matter. Brazil's Senate is expected to confirm Campos Neto's central bank appointment in February or March, the newspaper said.

* Caixa Econômica Federal said it had started the last phase of the selection process for four more vice presidents at the state-run bank, Reuters reported. The vice presidents of customer, business and digital transformation, risk, finance and control, as well as human resources will be appointed.

* Caixa Econômica Federal could raise up to 10.3 billion reais by opening the capital of its insurance unit Caixa Seguridade Participações SA, Valor Econômico reported. Caixa's new CEO, Pedro Guimarães, said earlier this week that Caixa Seguridade's profitability could double in two years following an initial public offering.

SOUTHERN CONE

* Argentina's central bank bought $20 million in market intervention on Jan. 10, after the peso fell to the low end of a trading band, set between 37.355 pesos and 48.342 pesos to a dollar, Reuters reported. Separately, Finance Secretary Santiago Bausili said the country's Treasury will start selling off $11 million in April, in an effort to deal with a peso cash gap.

* Chilean insurance companies are concerned about an SII tax agency circular that says customers who "rescue" life insurance policies using savings will pay income tax on any profits they make, obliging the insurers to retain the tax and report returns to the SII, La Tercera reported. Insurance industry leaders say the measure should have been subject to public consultation.

* Chilean lawmakers say a reduction in commissions by Banco del Estado de Chile on its basic CuentaRUT account does not go far enough, calling for certain charges to be scrapped for low-income customers including pensioners, La Tercera reported. Some deputies had requested a meeting with CEO Arturo Tagle to discuss the controversy.

PAN LATIN AMERICA

* Paraguay President Mario Abdo said the country was severing diplomatic ties with Venezuela as President Nicolás Maduro was sworn into a new six-year term amid a humanitarian, economic and political crisis, Reuters reported. Separately, the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States said it agreed to a resolution "to not recognize the legitimacy of Nicolás Maduro's new term," after having previously declared that the May 2018 election in Venezuela was illegitimate. Peru likewise recalled its charge d'affaires from its embassy in Venezuela to protest against Maduro's second term, Reuters reported.

* Growth in alternative reinsurance capital has slowed following two years of heavy catastrophe losses because the continuing entry of new funds is being offset by worse-than-expected claims from past events and some investors are looking to pull their money from the market, Aon PLC said in its latest reinsurance market outlook. However, Aon noted that only "a relatively small number" of investors were leaving, and said it expects the previous rate of growth in alternative capital to resume "once this area of the market has fully digested the losses incurred over the last two years."

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

* Asia-Pacific: Hong Kong fines FWD Life; Woori Bank ex-CEO sentenced to prison

* Middle East & Africa: Brookfield drops bid for Abraaj's Turkish assets; Italy's Azimut enters Egypt

Helen Popper 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. Links are current as of publication time, and we are not responsible if those links are unavailable later.