* Banco do Brasil SA's net income in the fourth quarter of 2017 shot up 222.7% to 3.11 billion Brazilian reais, from 963.0 million reais in the year-ago period. Fee income increased 6.6% to 6.74 billion reais, while allowance for loan losses slid 24.7% to 5.64 billion reais.
* Paraguay's central bank maintained its monetary policy rate at 5.25%, noting that domestically, short-term economic indicators continue to show a favorable trend. Internationally, reasonable dynamics persist in the most relevant advanced economies, although certain events caused some financial volatility, especially in the U.S., the regulator added.
MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
* Mexico's Navistar Financial, S. A. de C. V., Sociedad Financiera de Objeto Múltiple, Enti on Feb. 22 will place short-term notes worth 38.0 million Mexican pesos as part of a debt program worth 1.80 billion pesos. The 182-day bonds carry a 9.42% gross annual interest rate.
* Mexico's Labor Minister Roberto Campa said that labor standards or disputes in the country will not hinder efforts by the three signatories of the North American Free Trade Agreement to reach a new accord, Reuters reported.
* The finance committee of Mexico's lower house has approved the outlines of draft legislation to regulate the fintech industry, with 22 votes in favor and one against. This means, the bill will be elevated to the full chamber for consideration, El Economista reported.
* Fitch Ratings upgraded the national insurer financial strength rating of insurer MAPFRE Seguros Guatemala SA to AA+(gtm) from AA(gtm), while assigning a stable outlook. The upgrade reflects the company's effective corrective measures to correct the technical performance of its deficit lines, allowing it to continue recording adequate profitability, leverage and liquidity ratios for a company of its size.
* Fitch Ratings revised Suriname's outlook to stable from negative, while affirming the long-term foreign and local currency issuer default ratings at B-. After two years of recession, Suriname's economy grew 1.2% in 2017 and was forecast to expand 2.5% in 2018 and 2.7% in 2019, according to Fitch. The country also saw a current account surplus of 9.2% of GDP in 2017 after a 19.4% deficit in 2015, and is projected to continue recording a surplus this year and the next.
* South Korea said it will sign five separate trade deals with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, which will remove duties on about 95% of traded goods between those countries, Reuters reported, citing an emailed statement from the Asian nation's trade ministry.
* Brazil's Supreme Court voted 3-2 to release Wesley Batista, a businessman and former executive for meat company JBS SA, from jail on insider trading charges, Bloomberg News reported. The court also ordered the release of Wesley's brother, Joesley, over insider trading charges, though Joesley will remain in jail for charges on concealing information during plea bargain talks.
* Banco Daycoval SA posted net income of 130.0 million reais for the fourth quarter of 2017, down 19.7% from the 161.8 million reais earned a year earlier. The bank cited a 21.5% annual rise in loan loss provisions, up to 147.0 million reais in the quarter, from 121.0 million reais a year ago.
* Banco do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul SA said it will distribute interest on capital for the first quarter of 2018 worth 84.5 million reais, equivalent to a net amount of 17.56 centavos per share. Shareholders on record as of Feb. 26 will receive the payment March 28.
* U.S. technology firm Ripple Labs Inc. said that Itaú Unibanco Holding SA and India's IndusInd Bank Ltd. are looking to use the firm's RippleNet blockchain service, Bloomberg News reported. Brazilian remittance firm Beetech, Singapore's InstaReM and Canada's Zip Remit are also eyeing to use the service. "Emerging markets are where the opportunity is most acute because there are high volumes of low-value transactions," Ripple Senior Vice President for business development Patrick Griffin reportedly said.
* The Brazilian Senate gave final approval on Feb. 20 for military intervention in the city of Rio de Janeiro through year-end 2018, giving the army oversight of all security, Reuters reported.
* Caixa Econômica Federal, which has been stopped from selling its credit portfolios by the TCU federal audit court, has started instead negotiating with debtors in a bid to recover at least some of its defaulted loans, Valor Econômico reported, quoting CEO Gilberto Occhi. He said the negotiations had been successful. The bank is also looking into the possibility of using state receivables as collateral on loans granted to states and municipalities as an alternative to the use of future tax revenues and public participation funds as guarantees.
* Bancolombia SA reported consolidated net income of 901.90 billion Colombian pesos for the fourth quarter of 2017, down compared to the 1.131 trillion pesos earned in the year-ago period. Net provisions were up 20.59% annually to 930.37 billion pesos in the quarter, from 771.51 billion pesos.
* A law banning the use of cash in Peru for purchases of vehicles, stocks and property worth more than 12,450 soles will come into force in August this year, El Comercio reported, citing the country's official gazette.
* Peruvian lawmakers have given preliminary approval for legislation allowing the launch of reverse mortgages, El Comercio reported, adding that the central bank had called for sufficient regulatory safeguards and supervision if the product is introduced.
* Banco Santander Río SA posted a net profit of about 1.58 billion Argentine pesos for the fourth quarter of 2017, down 4.7% from the 1.66 billion pesos earned in the year-ago period. Administrative expenses jumped to 4.60 billion pesos for the fourth quarter from 2.81 billion pesos in the prior-year period, and loan loss provisions soared to 998.3 million pesos in the quarter from 510.1 million pesos a year ago.
* Banco Santander Chile said strict cost-cutting measures towards the end of 2017 helped boost net income attributable to shareholders by 24%, Pulso reported, citing the bank's country head, Claudio Melandri. The lender closed branches, shut down ATMs and reduced personnel during the year.
* Banco de Chile has concluded collective bargaining negotiations with the Citibank union and is now preparing for pay talks with the Edwards union, Diario Financiero reported. The bank is jointly controlled by Chilean conglomerate Quiñenco SA and Citigroup.
PAN LATIN AMERICA
* Switzerland's Financial Market Supervisory Authority is investigating several unnamed Swiss lenders over their possible involvement in a corruption scandal surrounding Venezuela's state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, Reuters reported. The investigation follows the U.S. Department of Justice declaring charges against five former Venezuelan officials for allegedly seeking bribes to help vendors secure energy contracts with PDVSA and hiding the money in banks, some of which were in Switzerland.
Helen Popper contributed to this article.
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