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Argentina maintains benchmark rate; Bancolombia income down 10.85%

* Banco Central de la República Argentina maintained its benchmark policy rate at 26.25%, citing a slight increase in its 12-month inflation expectation to 17.1% from 17.0%. Inflation expectations for the construction price index also rose to 22.0% from 21.5% in the previous month.

* Bancolombia SA reported second-quarter net income of about 653.54 billion Colombian pesos, a 10.85% annual decline. Net interest income grew 8.26% year over year to 2.633 trillion pesos in the quarter, while net fees and income from services also grew 7.62% to 615.22 billion pesos. However, Bancolombia recorded 789.74 billion pesos in net provisions, up 25.66% from a year earlier, while total operating expenses also grew 14.58% to 1.880 trillion pesos.

MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA

* Analysts expect Banco de México to maintain its benchmark rate at 7.00% in its Aug. 10 policy meeting, Reuters reported. Annual inflation for the country for July was an 8.5-year record high, but central bank Governor Agustin Carstens had previously said the authority may pause its series of rate hikes.

* Nacional Financiera S.N.C. Institución de Banca de Desarrollo, Banco Nacional de Comercio Exterior S.N.C. Institución de Banca de Desarrollo or Bancomext, Banco Nacional de Obras y Servicios Públicos S.N.C or Banobras, and Banco Santander have together contributed $440 million to a wind project for electric company Zuma Energía, The Wall Street Journal reported. Additionally, Bancomext and Banobras, together with the North American Development Bank, contributed $240 million to finance a wind project for Cubico Sustainable Investment.

* Panama's tax agency has launched an electronic platform where financial institutions can submit information demanded by the Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act, El Capital Financiero reported.

* The number of suspicious transactions registered by Guatemala's banking industry supervisor in the first half of 2017 rose 25.6% year on year, Prensa Libre reported.

* Visa has transferred its Costa Rican accounts to Banco Central de Costa Rica following the recent closure of retail operations at Banco Crédito Agrícola de Cartago, El Financiero reported, citing Carlos Melegatti, payment systems director for Costa Rica's central bank.

CARIBBEAN

* Fitch Ratings modified the outlook of Dominican Republic-based Rehsa Cia. De Reaseguros S.A. to positive from stable and affirmed its national scale rating at BB+(dom). The positive outlook reflects improvements in the insurer's technical profitability and combined ratio.

BRAZIL

* Banco Santander (Brasil) SA CEO Sergio Rial said the bank has acquired 70% of São Paulo credit recovery firm Ipanema Credit Management, Bloomberg News reported. The purchase price for the acquisition, which is pending central bank approval, was not disclosed by the executive.

* Economists surveyed by Reuters set a median growth estimate for Brazil's consumer price inflation of 0.19% for July and believe inflationary pressures will persist through the short term amid a hike in energy rates and fuel taxes. However, lower-than-expected economic recovery in Brazil should keep annual inflation low.

* Brazilian President Michel Temer's lawyers asked Supreme Court justices to remove lead prosecutor Rodrigo Janot from the corruption investigations on Temer, saying the prosecutor acted "beyond his constitutional limits," Reuters reported.

* Brazilian President Michel Temer will meet the country's finance, planning and infrastructure investment ministers to discuss lowering the country's 2017 fiscal target, Reuters reported, citing "a government official with knowledge of the matter." Brazil is targeting a fiscal deficit of 139 billion reais for 2017, but tax revenues have been lower than expected due to slow economic recovery. However, the government will not propose to Congress an income tax increase anytime soon, Reuters wrote separately.

* At least five Brazilian banks are interested in a payroll auction for Rio de Janeiro state employees due to be held on Aug. 9 with a minimum price of about 1.3 billion reais, Reuters quoted a state government source as saying. The source said Caixa Econômica Federal, Banco do Brasil SA, Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, Banco Bradesco SA and Banco Santander (Brasil) SA were in the race for the contract.

* Brazil's economic team is holding talks with lawmakers about creating special, more favorable terms for small and medium-sized companies that take loans from Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social during the transition to a new TLP interest rate, Folha de S. Paulo reported.

* Brazil's tax appeals court has partially rejected an appeal by Itaú Unibanco Holding SA against a $1.14 billion fine imposed by the federal tax agency in cases related to the usufruct of company shares, O Estado de S. Paulo reported, adding that Itaú was still deciding whether to contest the Aug. 8 ruling.

ANDEAN

* Venezuela's Supreme Court dismissed opposition Mayor Ramon Muchacho of Caracas' Chacao district and sentenced him to 15 months in prison, Reuters reported. Muchacho was reportedly found in contempt of court for defying an order to ensure free transit in his district, where protesters against President Nicolas Maduro's government have regularly blocked streets for over four months.

* Banco Central de Reserva del Perú President Julio Velarde said the central bank may cut its benchmark rate once or twice later in the year, or maintain it depending on the economy, Reuters reported. Velarde said flooding in the country and a wide-reaching corruption scandal at Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht had negatively affected Peru's growth forecasts, but data on consumers and private and public investment suggest a possible rebound.

* Peru's total credit portfolio increased by 2.58% in the first half of 2017, El Comercio wrote, citing the country's banking industry association. Bank deposits rose 5.44% during the six-month period.

SOUTHERN CONE

* S&P Global Ratings affirmed its BBB long-term and A-2 short-term issuer credit ratings on Larraín Vial SA Corredora de Bolsa and assigned them a negative outlook. The actions reflect a higher risk of economic imbalances due to a modest rise in Chile's exposure to external shocks.

* Chilean presidential aspirant Alejandro Guillier promised a diversified economy for the country if he wins in the November general elections, Reuters reported. The country's economy is dominated by the copper sector.

* Argentine President Mauricio Macri expects a boost in investments in the country as he predicts his coalition's victory in the October elections, Reuters reported. Economic growth should be 4.5% for the fourth quarter of the year and should stand at 4% for full year 2018, Macri added.

* Demand is growing in Argentina for inflation-indexed loans and state-owned banks are leading in the launch of new lines of personal loans, Clarín reported, citing data from Banco Central de la Republica Argentina. Banks have also granted 6.26 billion pesos in inflation-linked or so-called UVA personal loans.

* Banco de Inversión y Comercio Exterior SA said Anastasia Adem had resigned as director, while the board also revoked Leila Sonia Nazer's appointment. Ernesto Juan Martí Reta and José Luis Morea were subsequently named as their replacements.

* Banco Industrial SA is joining forces with fintech company MOON Money Online to launch an online lending platform aimed at small and medium-sized companies, Clarín reported.

* Argentine banks are trying to attract depositors to their dollar-denominated common investment funds, an instrument that has experienced a boom over the last year, El Cronista reported. Banco de Galicia y Buenos Aires SA had $1.2 billion funds under management since launching two such funds in the second half of 2016, according to the report.

* Uruguay's insurance market grew 13.6% in the second quarter, with 21.1 million pesos in premiums issued, El Pais reported, citing Banco Central del Uruguay data. Sales of life and workplace accident insurance contributed to the growth.

* Uruguay's credit market remains slow despite an economic rebound and improved consumer confidence, El Observador reported. The newspaper's Consumer Credit Index fell by 2.2% in June year on year following two previous quarterly contractions.

* According to the latest quarterly survey by Banco Central del Paraguay, Paraguayan financial entities are increasingly optimistic about credit conditions, with 29% of institutions surveyed saying lending to different sectors would increase, La Nación reported. Based on the same survey, 5Dias reported 52% of respondents believe the economic outlook was appropriate for granting loans, up from 31% during the same period a year ago.

* The number of credit cards in use in Paraguay fell 14% in June from the same month a year ago, although the value of transactions is expected to grow 21% this year due to hefty spending by Argentines on cross-border shopping trips, 5Dias reported, citing the Paraguayan Chamber of Payment Means.

* Chilean financial holding company Grupo Security SA has started a roadshow among investors ahead of its planned share sale operation, Diario Financiero reported. The company aims to increase its capital by issuing 437 million new shares at an estimated 220 pesos per share, according to the report.

* Argentina's Grupo Financiero Galicia SA posted net income of about 1.84 billion pesos for the second quarter of 2017, up 33.5% from the 1.38 billion pesos in the same period of 2016. Administrative expenses for the group were up 17.6% year over year to 20 million pesos, from 17 million pesos. The group's income from equity investments in Banco de Galicia y Buenos Aires SA was up 44.3% annually to 1.66 billion pesos in the quarter.

PAN LATIN AMERICA

* Latin American reinsurers will continue to face subdued demand amid slow regional economic growth and declining prices, among other factors, Fitch Ratings said. However, reinsurers are also expected to maintain adequate capitalization and profitability over the next 12 to 18 months, with revenue not falling beyond current rating tolerance levels.

IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD

* Europe: Munich Re Q2 profit drops 25%; Vantiv, Worldpay reach deal; Ageas Q2 profit down

* Middle East & Africa: Incumbent takes lead in Kenya election; Qatar Insurance unit to launch IPO

* North America: Pacific Premier buying Plaza Bancorp for $226.3M; Wells facing more scrutiny

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.