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Investors fear Venezuelan default; S&P upgrades Argentina

* Venezuelan opposition lawmaker Rafael Guzman said the country's central bank is in talks with U.S. investment fund Fintech Advisory Inc. to obtain about $500 million in financing using bonds from state oil company PDVSA as collateral, Reuters reported. The funds would help Venezuela meet nearly $3 billion in external debt payments due in April. The Financial Times reported that a sell-off in Venezuelan sovereign dollar bonds as well as those issued by PDVSA accelerated on April 4 amid fears of a default.

* S&P Global Ratings raised Argentina's long-term sovereign credit ratings to B from B-, with a stable outlook, while upgrading the national scale ratings to raA+ from raBBB. The rating agency cited the government's progress in "overall economic policy aimed at resolving large economic imbalances while restoring the country's policy credibility."

MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA

* Moody's downgraded CI Casa de Bolsa SA de CV's global long-term local currency issuer rating to Caa1 from B3 and its long-term Mexican national scale issuer rating to B2.mx from B1.mx. The action follows the implementation of Moody's new securities industry market makers' rating methodology in Mexico. It also reflects the firm's volatile and weak historical earnings, among other factors.

* Javier Guzman, the deputy governor of Mexico's central bank, said inflation in the country is under control, but policymakers must still be careful due to a number of upside risks such as the peso's depreciation and a sharp increase in gasoline prices, Reuters reported.

* Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray is traveling to Washington to meet with senior U.S. government officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as well as to attend a council meeting of the Organization of American States, the Mexican government said.

* The number of complaints filed against Mexican banks increased 31% to 7.4 million in 2016 from 5.6 million in the previous year, with the vast majority related to credit and debit cards, El Economista reported, citing financial consumer protection agency Condusef.

* Mexican stock exchange BMV and global data center Equinix have reached an agreement to distribute real-time capital markets and derivatives information to customers in the U.S., El Economista reported.

CARIBBEAN

* The Dominican Republic's dependence on international capital market borrowing has increased the government's sensitivity to gradually rising U.S. interest rates, Fitch Ratings said. Higher U.S. dollar interest rates will probably raise the government's already high interest burden and pressure the budget in 2017 and 2018. Almost 70% of the Dominican Republic general government debt is denominated in foreign currencies, mainly dollars.

BRAZIL

* The Brazilian government's proposed bankruptcy law reform could enhance the legal framework for local credit, which would provide more comfort to banks and support lending growth, Fitch Ratings said. "Fitch anticipates credit growth of 4.7% for the sector by year-end 2017," the rating agency said. "Should the government's measures … be implemented quickly, this growth could accelerate, although the positive effects are more likely to be perceived starting in 2018 and thereafter."

* Brazilian central bank chief Ilan Goldfajn said greater flexibility in monetary policy will help the local economy grow faster in 2018, but stressed the need for economic reforms in order to lower borrowing costs in the long term, Reuters reported.

* Brazil's Supreme Electoral Tribunal delayed its decision in an illegal campaign financing case that threatens to unseat President Michel Temer until at least May, Reuters reported. If the court rules that former President Dilma Rousseff and Temer, who was her running mate in 2014, obtained illicit funding for their election campaign, it could invalidate the result and remove Temer from office.

* Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social President Maria Silvia Bastos said the bank has almost completed a review of its lending procedures aimed at streamlining the process, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported. BNDES will also announce next week new rules that allow for the sharing of guarantees for infrastructure project loans between banks, Reuters reported.

* Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social announced a new credit line to support the exportation of defense industry goods produced in Brazil, Reuters reported. The bank estimates that the credit line could reach $35 billion in the first 20 years.

* The deleveraging of Brazil's private sector following years of brisk credit expansion is a key challenge for the economy as it recovers from a deep recession, Valor Econômico reported, citing Carlos Viana, the director of economic policy at Brazil's central bank. Ilan Goldfajn, the central bank's chief, said there are signs of economic stabilization pointing to a gradual recovery in 2017 and higher growth in 2018, the publication reported separately.

* Caixa Econômica Federal said it expects to approve around 5,000 adhesions to the bank's voluntary retirement program by the end of April, nearly half the number of employees the bank had targeted when it launched the program, Reuters reported.

* Brazil's central bank issued a resolution raising the limit of financing financial institutions can grant to state electricity companies to 3.55 billion reais from 2.5 billion reais previously, Reuters reported.

* Caixa Econômica Federal has published rules governing payroll-deductible loans guaranteed by the FGTS workers severance fund, allowing banks to start signing agreements with companies so that their employees can access these credit lines, Valor Econômico reported.

* Brazil's central bank said "operational errors" led to the publication of two incorrect inflation forecasts in the bank's recent quarterly inflation report, Diário Comércio Indústria & Serviços reported. The bank corrected its inflation forecast for 2017 to 3.6% from 3.9% and the 2018 forecast to 3.3% from 4%.

* A group of Brazilian export companies is planning to take legal action against banks that allegedly caused 70 billion reais of losses for the export firms by colluding to manipulate the exchange rate between 2007 and 2013, O Estado de S. Paulo reported. The banks are already being investigated by antitrust regulator Cade.

ANDEAN

* Reconstruction efforts following flooding caused by the El Niño phenomenon in Peru could cost the economy between $12 billion and $15 billion, Diario Financiero reported, citing Peruvian Defense Minister Jorge Nieto Montesinos. As of March 30, the climate disaster had reportedly resulted in at least 98 deaths and left 32,000 homes uninhabitable.

* Ecuador's electoral council confirmed former Vice President Lenín Moreno's win in the country's presidential elections. Moreno received 51.16% of the votes compared to conservative rival Guillermo Lasso's 48.84%, with 99.66% of the total votes counted. The head of the national electoral body said the result was "official and irreversible." The new president will take office May 24.

* Peruvian Economy and Finance Minister Alfredo Thorne said the country's GDP probably grew only 2% in the first quarter due to the impact of severe flooding caused by the El Niño climate cycle, El Comercio reported.

* Grupo de Inversiones Suramericana SA said its board has authorized the company to purchase an additional stake of almost 5% in Sura Asset Management by acquiring shares held by the International Finance Corp. and IFC ALAC Spain SL for about $383.2 million, La República reported. The purchase will increase Grupo Sura's stake in Sura Asset Management to 83.58% from the current 78.71%.

SOUTHERN CONE

* S&P Global Ratings raised its ratings on four Argentine banks following its upgrade of the sovereign. The rating agency upgraded its foreign and local currency issuer credit ratings on Banco de la Provincia de Buenos Aires, Banco Hipotecario SA, Banco Patagonia SA and Banco de Galicia y Buenos Aires SA to B from B-, with a stable outlook.

* Argentine Finance Minister Luis Caputo defended the government's fiscal program and said it does not face any problems related to debt sustainability, La Nacion reported. In an interview with the publication, he added that the level of credit in Argentina is very low partly due to a fear of long-term borrowing.

* Argentine securities commission CNV has authorized a public offering of the shares of Bolsas y Mercados Argentinos, or ByMA, a recently created securities market that is expected to become operational in April, El Cronista reported.

* Francisco Gismondi, a director at Argentina's central bank, said the country's banking sector is overcapitalized and must find ways to grow and boost profitability amid falling inflation, El Cronista reported. He made the comments during a banking seminar where industry executives agreed on the need to increase financial inclusion and competition in the sector.

* Paraguay's clearing house for paper bank checks is now operating under the management of Bancard SA instead of the central bank under a resolution issued by the latter, 5días reported.

* The Argentine government said its tax amnesty program resulted in $116.8 billion in assets being declared, mostly from outside the country, with the government collecting 148.6 billion Argentine pesos, or about $9.65 billion, in taxes and fees from the program, Reuters reported.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

* Asia-Pacific: Swiss regulator halts probe into UBS; Daiwa mulls new European subsidiary

* Middle East & Africa: Moody's puts SA banks on review for downgrade; Al Hilal gets new CEO

* Europe: Commerzbank pink slips; RBS' plan B probed; JPMorgan chief talks Brexit

S&P Global Ratings and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by S&P Global Inc.

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.