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Weekly news through April 29

This weekly article offers aselection of our top banking stories published throughout the week.

Lackluster profit growth

MajorChinese banks appear to be struggling for profit growth; four reported asingle-digit percentage increase in first-quarter net profit, while tworeported profit growth of below 1%. Four of the six lenders also reported adrop in the net interest income.

's net profitfor the first quarter edgedup 1.7% year over year, while Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. posted a 1.06%rise in net profit.China CITIC Bank Corp.Ltd. posted a 2.49% increase in net profit for the quarter.China Merchants Bank Co.Ltd. did comparatively better, reporting a 6.6% year-over-year increase in net profit.

Meanwhile,Industrial & Commercial Bankof China Ltd. and Bank of Communications Co. Ltd. fared the worst, postingnet profit growth of just 0.6% and 0.5%, respectively.

Regulatory, policy moves

Amongthe important regulatory and policy moves reported during the week were theBank of Japan and theReserve Bank of NewZealand decisions to stick to their existing monetary policystances.

TheJapanese central bank decided to maintain its negative interest rate regime and hold itsquantitative and qualitative easing program stable. It added that it wouldprovide the loans at a zero interest rate. Earlier in the week, it was reportedthat Bank of Japan would possibly consider imposing a negative interest rate on some loansand make more cuts to the current negative rate on reserves.

NewZealand's central bank kept the official cash rate at 2.25%, but said furtherpolicy easing may be needed to make sure that future average inflation settlesnear the middle of the target range.

Inother moves, China'sregulators are reportedly exploring the possibility of starting the trading ofcredit default swaps amid the rising number of defaults among Chinese firms.Moreover, the China Banking Regulatory Commission suspended the personal mortgage business of seven localbranches of banks for two months as part of efforts to contain housing marketrisks.

InIndia, the central bank and the Securities and Exchange Board of India willdiscuss whether ornot to regulate the country's growing peer-to-peer, or social lending,marketplace.

Meanwhile,the Philippines' central bank is expected to start transitioning to an interest ratecorridor system as early as May.

M&A news

*U.S.-based TPG Newbridge and other foreign funds are reportedly interested inacquiring 's 23.8% stake in Malaysia's AMMB Holdings Bhd.

*Ashikaga Holdings Co.Ltd. and Joyo BankLtd. enteredinto a definitive agreement in connection with their proposed merger.

*Siddhartha BankLtd.'s shareholders approved a planned merger with Business Universal DevelopmentBank.

*DBS Group HoldingsLtd. CEO Piyush Gupta said the company is not in acquiring all or part ofU.K.-based Standard CharteredPlc and is instead focusing on competing with fintech firms such asAlibaba.

*MyState Ltd. isreportedly still keenon acquiring Auswide BankLtd. after takeover talks fell apart in mid-2015.

In other news

*Fitch Ratings Indonesia affirmed the ratings of , and PT Bank Pan IndonesiaTbk.

*United Overseas BankLtd.'s net profit attributable to equity holders for the firstquarter fell 4.4%year over year.

*Myanmar's central bank granted Cambodia-based a license to open arepresentative office in the country.

*Westpac Banking Corp.tightened mortgagelending to foreigners, the last of the four biggest Australian lenders to do so.

*Pakistan's Habib BankLtd. and ChinaDevelopment Bank Corp. signed a foreign-currency financing agreement.

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