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Argentina inflation hits 27-year high; Fitch downgrades Costa Rica

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Argentina inflation hits 27-year high; Fitch downgrades Costa Rica

* Argentina's consumer price index rose 2.6% in December 2018 alone, bringing the annual pace of inflation to a 27-year high of 47.6%, according to data from national statistics agency INDEC. The country entered into a technical recession in the third quarter of last year.

* Fitch Ratings downgraded Costa Rica's long-term foreign currency issuer default rating to B+ from BB, saying that the country continues to face wide fiscal deficits and financing restrictions. The rating agency is uncertain whether the country will meet its financing needs as it awaits approval from Congress for external borrowing and as domestic financing rates remain high.

MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA

* Mexican lender Banco Actinver SA Institución de Banca Múltiple Grupo Financiero Actinver has sued transport company Aleatica SAB de CV, claiming that it received less money than it should have when it sold shares in Aleatica, Reforma reported. Banco Actinver reportedly also sued a number of other parties that allegedly had a hand in the transaction, including financial regulator CNBV.

* Fitch Ratings assigned a national insurer financial strength rating of AA(pan) to Panama-based Aseguradora Global SA, with stable outlook. The company has "outstanding profitability levels relative to the market in which it operates," Fitch said.

* The Mexican government's plan to bolster the financial system by increasing potential bank borrowers would be credit positive for banks if implemented successfully, Moody's said. The rating agency also expects reduced credit costs and interest rates with improved security on payroll-linked loans, which will be done by allowing banks priority claim on borrowers' salaries.

BRAZIL

* Brazilian antitrust regulator Cade is investigating the alleged formation of a cartel by insurance and reinsurance brokers dealing in aviation and aerospace insurance policies, Valor Econômico reported.

ANDEAN

* Colombia will not revamp its pension system in 2019 since the government requires time to evaluate the overhaul's impact before presenting the bill to Congress, Reuters reported, citing Labor Minister Alicia Arango.

* Banco de Comercio Exterior de Colombia SA – BANCÓLDEX President Mario Suárez Melo said the development bank's loan disbursements grew 37% in 2018 from the previous year to a record high of 4.81 trillion Colombian pesos, El Tiempo reported.

* Bancompartir SA President Gregorio Mejía said the Colombian bank will launch a digital wallet application in the first quarter of 2019, La República reported. The executive expects the company's loan portfolio to grow between 12% and 15% this year.

* Fitch Ratings assigned long- and short-term national scale ratings of AAA(col) and F1+(col), respectively, to Bolsa de Valores de Colombia SA, with a stable outlook.

* Fitch Ratings revised its rating outlooks on Ecuador-based Banco Pichincha CA and Banco de la Producción SA to negative from stable following a similar action on the country's sovereign ratings.

* Fitch Ratings withdrew its international scale ratings on Banco Occidental de Descuento Banco Universal CA, Banco Nacional de Crédito CA Banco Universal and Banco Exterior CA Banco Universal. The ratings were withdrawn for commercial reasons.

SOUTHERN CONE

* Chile's banking market will likely see a moderation in asset growth in 2019, with an expected increase of about 7%, according to estimates collected by Diario Financiero. Higher funding costs as interest rates rise will also likely temper loan growth.

* Uruguay placed a US$850 million bond that matures in 2031, becoming the first Latin American country to seek external financing in 2019, El Cronista reported.

* The amount of financing secured by Argentine companies in the local capital market fell 36% year over year in 2018 to about 190.51 billion Argentine pesos, El Cronista reported, citing data from the CNV securities commission.

* The Santiago stock exchange will discuss the potential implications of new legislation, passed by the Senate's finance committee, that would establish compulsory interconnection between Chile's two financial bourses, La Tercera reported.

* Jorge Yarur Bascuñan, a member of the Yarur family that controls Chile's Banco de Credito e Inversiones SA, filed a lawsuit against the bank's CEO Eugenio Von Chrismar alleging that close to 1 billion Chilean pesos were withdrawn from Bascuñan's account without his permission, La Tercera reported.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

* Asia-Pacific: China denies delaying Mastercard, Visa entry; fund manager sells IOOF stake

* Middle East & Africa: QNB FY'18 profit up YOY; Absa targets mortgage market; KFH mulls Malaysian exit

* Europe: UK lawmakers vote against Brexit deal; change of heart at Santander

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. Links are current as of publication time, and we are not responsible if those links are unavailable later.