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IMF cuts LatAm growth forecast; Argentina key rate falls to 68%


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IMF cuts LatAm growth forecast; Argentina key rate falls to 68%

* The International Monetary Fund reduced its 2019 economic growth forecast for Latin America and the Caribbean to 0.2% from 0.6% previously. The lower growth projection reflects downgrades to Brazil, while other large economies in the region have seen significantly slower activity. The IMF projects growth in the region to rise to 1.8% in 2020.

* Argentina's benchmark interest rate, on the central bank's Leliq paper, fell to 68% this week, meaning it will not fall further for the rest of the month due to a floor imposed by Banco Central de la República Argentina's monetary policy committee, El Cronista reported. The Leliq rate has fallen 18 percentage points since it spiked on Sept. 10 as the peso plunged following the August primary elections.


* Ricardo Monreal, the Senate leader of Mexico's ruling MORENA party, said the legislature will try to approve in October a bill that will regulate fees for financial services, Reuters reported. While Monreal acknowledged some resistance to the bills, he also believes that banks understand to some degree that "they must reduce these sorts of charges."

* Moody's cut its Mexican economic growth forecast this year to 0.2% from 0.5% in line with estimates by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, El Financiero reported. Moody's cited weaker production activity during the first half due to sluggish private investment and consumption.

* Spanish financial technology firm Bnext will start operating in Mexico in November, its first Latin American venture, El Economista reported, citing CEO Guillermo Vicandi. Bnext aims to have 250,000 customers in Mexico during its first year in operation.

* Banco Financiera Comercial Hondureña SA signed a $35 million subordinated loan agreement with Germany's DEG - Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH. The credit line will be used to boost financing for small and medium-sized businesses in Honduras, and will also strengthen the bank's equity.


* S&P Global Ratings raised Haitong Banco de Investimento do Brasil SA's long-term national scale rating to brAAA from brAA+, reflecting the stronger financial profile of Portuguese parent Haitong Bank SA. S&P believes its large revenue contribution to the group and strong operational integration, among others, make it a core subsidiary of its parent.

* Brazilian central bank president Roberto Campos Neto said he wants to attract greater amounts of private capital to "reinvent" the country's financial sector, the Financial Times reported. "[Attracting investment] is very hard to get and very easy to lose. Unfortunately for us, global growth is not going favorably and people are showing signs of risk aversion," he said.

* Banco BTG Pactual SA said recent investigations at the bank by federal police over the last three months have not affected its asset management business, Reuters reported. One of the investigations was related to a fund named Bintang, which was allegedly involved in a leak of central bank rate decisions.

* Despite the government's efforts to reinstate him, André Laloni's return to his post of capital markets director at Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social is no longer feasible, Valor Econômico reported, citing a senior source at the development bank. Laloni resigned from the job last week, a move that was seen to delay the bank’s privatizations and asset sales.

* Brazilian foreign currency bank Bexs Banco de Câmbio SA plans to launch a digital forex platform for companies in the first half of 2020, according to Estado de S. Paulo's Broadcast column. It noted that Bex had already launched a similar product for individuals.


* The Peruvian banking regulator allowed Spain's Banco Santander SA to acquire more than 37.3 million shares of auto loan provider Edpyme Santander Consumo Perú SA from SKBergé SA. The purchase will allow Santander to increase its direct ownership in the financing company to 99.99% from 55%.

* Bank deposits in dollars in Peru are rising in 2019 due to heightened political uncertainty and are expected to keep increasing until a new Congress is sworn in after the start of 2020, SEMANAeconómica reported. From December 2018 to July 2019, 41% more new dollar accounts have been created in the banking system, raising the dollarization rate of bank deposits from 39.49% at the end of 2018 to 40.43% as of July 2019, the Asbanc banking industry association said.


* Argentine Finance Minister Hernán Lacunza said "there is no time to lose" in starting negotiations with the country's creditors and moving forward with the government's debt-rescheduling plans, Clarín reported. He also denied the government was planning new currency controls and highlighted the country's over-compliance with fiscal goals agreed with the International Monetary Fund.

* The economic committee of the Chilean lower house has approved a bill that aims to make it easier and less costly for individuals and small businesses to switch between different financial providers, La Tercera reported. The draft legislation will now be debated by the full house.

* The average annual interest rate on mortgages in Chile fell to a new record low in the first week of October, dipping below 2.0% for the first time, Diario Financiero reported, citing the latest central bank data. The average rate was 1.98%, and it is widely expected to keep falling in the short term.


* Asia-Pacific: China opens up banking, insurance sectors; Latitude IPO falls through

Helen Popper contributed to this article.

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