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Commercial Bank posts profit drop; South Africa 'cautious' about monetary policy

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

* Fitch Ratings said the threat to the funding and liquidity of Qatari lenders from outflows of nondomestic deposits appears to be easing amid the boycott of Qatar by a group of its neighboring states. The agency, however, noted that risks to the banks' funding remain as long as the boycott continues, and that higher funding costs are weighing on bank margins.

* Qatari lenders are reportedly reducing their U.S. dollar sales to international banks, which are struggling to convert riyals to dollars and are using the offshore market to do so, insiders told Bloomberg News. It comes amid Qatar's ongoing diplomatic row with some of its neighboring Arab states.

* Commercial Bank (PSQC) reported net profit of 259 million Qatari riyals for the nine-month period ended Sept. 30, down from 491 million riyals a year earlier. Net operating income declined year over year to 2.65 billion riyals. Net provisions for loans and advances rose 31% on a yearly basis to 1.45 billion riyals.

* Analysts said Qatar National Bank (QPSC) expects loan growth of 12% to 14% this year, driven by the Qatari government's spending on infrastructure projects, Reuters wrote. A net profit growth of 6% to 8% is expected for 2017 and 2018.

* Saudi Arabia's oil minister, Khalid Al-Falih, said Saudi Aramco's planned IPO in 2018 remains "on track," noting that the government will announce the venue for it "in due course," according to Bloomberg News. Al-Falih declined to comment about reports that Chinese investors have offered to buy ahead of the IPO. Chinese state-owned oil companies PetroChina Co. Ltd. and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. reportedly offered to buy 5% or more of Aramco.

* The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange launched its technical short-selling service, becoming the first Gulf market to offer such a service. The move is part of the company's strategy to increase liquidity levels as well as diversify investment and hedging instruments to better attract specialized foreign investors.

* The Central Bank of Iran signed a finance agreement with the Export Insurance Agency of Russia, paving the way for Russian lenders to provide financing to their Iranian peers, the Financial Tribune reported.

* The Paris branch of Bank Melli Iran Inc. now has direct access to Target 2, the European interbank payment network operated by the Eurosystem, according to the Financial Tribune.

* BlueVine, an Israeli financial technology firm headquartered in California, has raised $130 million from banks and investors to expand its online business lending operations, Globes reported.

* Companies listed on Morocco's stock exchange showed a 10.7% increase in profit in the first half after several years of decline, with analysts predicting continued growth in the country's banking, insurance and property sectors, La Nouvelle Tribune reported.

EAST AND WEST AFRICA

* The Kenya Tea Development Agency has withdrawn its lawsuit against the Central Bank of Kenya and the Kenya Deposit Insurance Corp. over the closure of Chase Bank (Kenya) Ltd., which has been under receivership since April 2016, Business Daily Africa reported. The agency said it had deposits of about 2 billion Kenyan shillings in Chase Bank.

* Analysts expect Kenyan banks to declare lower dividends this year as a result of a high nonperforming loans as borrowers struggle with repayment, The East African reported.

* Fitch Ratings said the return of Nigerian banks to the international bond markets through the issuance of eurobonds is a step toward reducing maturity mismatches between foreign-currency assets and liabilities.

* Moody's said in a report that the credit profile of the African Development Bank is supported by a robust asset coverage ratio, solid liquidity buffers and very strong member support.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN AFRICA

* South African Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Daniel Mminele said the uncertain environment is forcing the central bank to take a "cautious approach" to monetary policy, as risks to the inflation outlook are on the upside, Reuters reported.

* Cameroon's government attempted to raise 5 billion CFA francs in a Treasury issue on central Africa's BEAC regional securities market, but was only able to raise 4.5 billion CFA francs due to high interest rates demanded by investors, Agence Ecofin said.

* Analysts fear that Botswana's widening budget deficit might lead to the downgrade of the country's sovereign credit rating, Mmegi wrote. Botswana's deficit is seen widening to 8 billion pula in the next financial year.

* Angola's central bank sold €122.2 million in foreign exchange to the country's banks in its latest weekly forex auction, slightly more than a week earlier, Jornal de Angola reported.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

Asia-Pacific: Thailand denies alleged currency manipulation; AIG eyes Suncorp's life biz

Europe: Credit Suisse breakup bid; May dines with Juncker; Spanish banks suffer anew

Latin America: Itau-XP Investimentos deal seen as 'complex'; Finandina head resigns

North America: Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Q3 EPS up; Wells Fargo units to pay $3.4M

North America Insurance: Bipartisan health bill includes subsidies; hefty ACA rate hikes in more states

Sheryl Obejera, Sarah Raslan, Pádraig Belton and Helen Popper contributed to this report.

The Daily Dose Middle East and Africa has an editorial deadline of 5 a.m. London time. Some external links may require a subscription.