* Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social named Ricardo Ramos, who currently runs the state-owned lender's capital markets monitoring business, to replace Paulo Rabello de Castro as CEO, Reuters reported. Rabello de Castro is set to resign the post on March 31 and is expected to run for the office of Brazilian president in October.
* Brazil's central bank said it will lower reserve requirements on savings and checking accounts to 25% from 40% in a move that will help free up around 25.7 billion Brazilian reais for new loans, Reuters reported. The central bank also outlined rules for lenders to issue covered bonds, a type of deposit that could result in increased mortgage lending by lowering funding costs. The changes will take effect between late April and early May.
MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
* Costa Rica's Banco BCT SA received regulatory approval to launch a new standard bond issuance program in the local market worth $50.0 million, or its equivalent in Costa Rican colones.
* Fitch Ratings withdrew its viability rating on Panama's Grupo Assa SA, reflecting the rating agency's view that the company's creditworthiness depends heavily on that of its main subsidiary, ASSA Tenedora.
* Mexico's finance ministry reaffirmed its 2018 GDP growth forecast at between 2.0% and 3.0%, and said it expects 2019 economic growth to reach between 2.5% and 3.5%, Reuters reported.
* Lending by commercial banks in Mexico grew 6.3% year over year in February, up from the 5.9% annual growth seen in January, El Economista reported, citing central bank data.
* Neri Geller, the Brazilian agriculture ministry's economic policy secretary, said funds for the government's 2018-19 farm loan program will increase 2% from the previous crop cycle to a maximum of 194 billion reais, Reuters reported.
* Brazilian President Michel Temer will see more than one third of his cabinet resign over the next week as the ministers look to campaign for their congressional seats in general elections set for October, presidential aides told Reuters.
* Brazil's national monetary council announced a new rule barring local banks from limiting payment firms' access to five types of banking operations, including transfers between accounts in the same bank, in order to boost competition in the financial sector, Reuters reported. Most aspects of the new rule will take effect July 2.
* Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social has lowered its forecast for loan disbursements in 2018 to 80 billion reais from 90 billion reais previously, Reuters reported, citing outgoing CEO Paulo Rabello de Castro. The new forecast follows weaker-than-expected loan disbursements in the first two months of 2018.
* Peru's recently sworn-in President Martin Vizcarra will name Cesar Villanueva, an opposition lawmaker, as the country's prime minister, Reuters reported, citing two sources. Villanueva is a centrist lawmaker who was twice elected governor of an Amazonian region. Vizcarra is also expected to name David Tuesta, currently a corporate strategy director at Banco De Desarrollo De América Latina, as his new economy minister, sources told El Comercio.
* Switzerland imposed asset freezes and travel bans on a number of Venezuelan people and companies, including seven ministers and high-ranking government officials, over the South American country's alleged human rights violations, Reuters reported.
* Banco Macro SA plans to offer bonds worth up to 4.00 billion Argentine pesos on April 4. The 36-month, series C notes will be issued April 9.
* Fitch Ratings assigned long-term foreign and local currency issuer default ratings of B and a viability rating of "b" to Banco de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, with a positive outlook. The City of Buenos Aires, which owns the bank, has adequate capacity and propensity to support the lender if needed, Fitch said.
* Itaú CorpBanca shareholders approved a proposal for a 22.98 billion Chilean pesos dividend payment, corresponding to 4.48 centavos per share.
* Economic activity in Argentina grew 4.1% in January from a year earlier and expanded 0.6% compared to December 2017, Reuters reported, citing government statistics agency Indec.
* Argentina's government has obtained a $1 billion loan from HSBC Bank Argentina SA to help finance its 2018 budget, Clarín reported.
* HSBC Bank Argentina SA, BBVA Banco Francés SA and Banco Macro SA have submitted nonbinding offers to acquire retail firm Cencosud's Argentine credit card portfolio, El Cronista reported. Goldman Sachs has been tasked with arranging a deal.
* Banco de Valores SA Chairman Juan Nápoli said the bank will enter the Merval stock index next week and is also considering the possibility of trading on foreign exchanges in New York or London, El Cronista reported.
* Chile's finance ministry and central bank are discussing possible regulations for cryptocurrencies in order to better protect financial market stability, Pulso reported, citing Finance Minister Felipe Larraín.
* Scotiabank Chile General Manager Francisco Sardón said the bank hopes to complete its full integration with Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria Chile SA by September 2019, Pulso reported. Scotiabank's acquisition of BBVA Chile still requires approval from local antitrust watchdog FNE. The executive added that Scotiabank Chile plans to leave its current headquarters and move to BBVA Chile's offices once the deal is finalized.
PAN LATIN AMERICA
* Fitch Ratings revised its support ratings on Banco de Reservas de la República Dominicana Banco de Servicios Múltiples, Banco del Bajío SA Institución de Banca Múltiple and Banco Interamericano de Finanzas SA to 3 from 4. The revisions follow the finalization of an exposure draft with respect to Fitch's bank rating criteria.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
* Asia-Pacific: Chinese bank FY'17 profit up; Japan's ORIX exits Sri Lanka; Thailand holds rate
* Middle East & Africa: Sanlam raises $490M in new share sale; Morocco's BMCE eyes Shanghai branch
* North America: Renasant buying Brand Group in $452.9M deal; FDIC fines NJ bank
Helen Popper contributed to this article.
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