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US Fed officials hold target rate; KB Kookmin eyes stake sale in Kazakh bank

* U.S. Federal Open Market Committee policymakers voted to hold the Federal Reserve's key rate at its current target range of between 50 and 75 basis points during their first meeting of 2017. Committee members said in their statement that they continue to expect economic conditions will call for "only gradual increases" of the benchmark rate as they work to normalize monetary policy.

* U.S.-based General Electric Co. agreed to sell unit GE Capital's 43% stake in South Korea's Hyundai Card Co. Ltd. to Hyundai Commercial, Affinity Equity Partners, GIC and AlpInvest. The transaction is expected to close around the end of February.

* South Korea's KB Kookmin Bank intends to sell its 41.93% stake in Kazakhstan's Bank CenterCredit JSC to a group of Kazakh investors including TsesnaBank JSC, Reuters reported, citing bourse filings. CenterCredit Chairman Bakhytbek Baiseitov, one of the buyers, also plans to purchase a 10% stake from the International Finance Corp., a private-sector unit of the World Bank.

* U.K.-based JLT Reinsurance Brokers Ltd. appointed William Pang as managing director of JLT Re Philippines, subject to regulatory approval. Pang will relocate to Manila in the first quarter, and will join JLT Re's Asia-Pacific executive group.

GREATER CHINA

* China Insurance Security Fund Co. Ltd. said that the balance of the country's insurance security fund increased 33.75% year over year to 94.23 billion yuan as of the end of 2016, Xinhua News Agency reported. The balance of China's property insurance fund stood at 60.96 billion yuan.

* China's manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index dropped 10 basis points to 51.3% in January from the previous month, Sohu Business reported.

* A total of 767 listed companies in China bought 726.88 billion yuan worth of wealth management products in 2016, Xinhua News Agency reported.

* Apple Inc.'s mobile payment service Apple Pay will soon enter the Taiwanese market, The China Post reported, citing a Chinese-language statement from the tech company. Apple has not revealed the exact date of the launch.

JAPAN AND KOREA

* A growing number of Japanese commercial banks are changing their fee structure, The Mainichi Shimbun reported. Mizuho Bank Ltd. has raised the minimum balance requirement for ATM fee waivers to ¥300,000 from ¥100,000.

* Mizuho Bank will collaborate with Japan Finance Corp. on supporting startup companies, Tokyo's The Nikkei reported.

* A South Korean civic organization filed a criminal complaint against Shinhan Card Co. Ltd. CEO Wi Sung-ho, citing his alleged role in an embezzlement scandal at Shinhan Financial Group Co. Ltd. in 2010, the Maeil Business Newspaper reported. Wi is one of the leading CEO candidates for Shinhan Bank Co. Ltd.

* South Korea's internet-only K-Bank, which is expected to start operations in late February, joined the Korea Federation of Banks, The Korea Herald reported, citing the group. It marks the first time the group has added a new bank member in 25 years.

ASEAN

* Indonesia's Infobank reported that PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia (Persero) Tbk will issue bonds worth 11.5 trillion rupiah in the first half.

* Bangkok Life Assurance PCL appointed Wipol Worasaoharit as its new president, effective March 1, Thailand's Post Today reported.

* Both seven-day and 28-day term deposits offered by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas were oversubscribed during their recent auction, although banks and trust companies preferred the shorter-term instruments, BusinessWorld reported.

* BDO Unibank Inc. plans to add 50 to 70 branches in 2017 after the completion of its rights offering, Manila Standard reported. Nestor Tan, the bank's president, said most of the branches will be located outside the country's national capital region.

SOUTH ASIA

* The Indian government only allocated 100 billion rupees in additional capital for state-owned banks for fiscal 2017-2018, a move that could force some lenders to tap the equities market and sell noncore assets, The Economic Times reported.

* The Reserve Bank of India said it has not authorized the use of virtual currencies and warned those investing in instruments, including bitcoin, that they were exposing themselves to potential financial, operational, legal, customer protection and security-related risks.

* India's Centrum Capital Ltd. unit Centrum Retail Services Ltd. is selling a minority stake in CentrumDirect Ltd. to NYLIM Jacob Ballas India Holdings IV and Jacob Ballas Capital India Pvt. Ltd. The board of Centrum Retail Services approved the proposed sale, which is subject to regulatory approvals.

* Ujjivan Financial Services Ltd. unit Ujjivan Small Finance Bank Ltd. has started operations, according to a press release from India's central bank. The bank had received regulatory approval in November 2016.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. may sell its stake in partner banks across Asia as it reshapes overseas retail and wealth management operations, The Nikkei reported, citing Shayne Elliott, CEO of the bank. The Australian banking group recently sold asset finance business UDC Finance to Chinese conglomerate HNA Group and divested its 20% stake in Shanghai Rural Commercial Bank Co. Ltd.

* Graeme Wheeler, governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, is set to make an announcement "fairly soon" on his future in the role, Bloomberg News reported, citing Steven Joyce, the country's finance minister. Wheeler's five-year tenure is set to end in September and he has yet to announce whether he intends to seek a second term.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Middle East & Africa: 3 UAE banks post Q4 results; Njoroge warns of 'Trump effect' on Kenya

Europe: BBVA, Julius Bär post FY'16 results; ECB happy with UniCredit plan

Latin America: XP Investimentos plans $1B IPO; BNDES lending hits 9-year low

North America: Wells blocked from paying severance packages to laid-off employees

North America Insurance: Warren questions decision to end ACA ads; Cigna weighing Anthem deal options

Sally Wang, Jonathan Cheah, Jaekwon Lim and Santibhap Ussavasodhi contributed to this report.

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