Lebanon central bank reassures foreign investors about deposits By Reuters



BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s central bank said on Saturday there would be no “haircut” on deposits at banks due to the country’s financial crisis, responding to concerns voiced by a prominent Arab billionaire about risks to foreign investments there.

Emirati businessman Khalaf Ahmad al-Habtoor, founder of the Al Habtoor Group that has two hotels in Beirut, posted a video of himself on his official Twitter account asking Lebanon’s central bank governor if there was any risk to dollar deposits of foreign investors and whether there could be any such haircut.

“The declared policy of the Central Bank of Lebanon is not to bankrupt any bank thus preserving the depositors. Also the law in Lebanon doesn’t allow haircut,” the Banque Du Liban (BDL) said in a Twitter post addressed to Habtoor, from Governor Riad Salameh.

“BDL is providing the liquidity needed by banks in both Lebanese pound and dollars, but under one condition that the dollars lent by BDL won’t be transferred abroad.”

“All funds received by Lebanese banks from abroad after November 17th are free to be transferred out,” it added on its official Twitter account.

The heavily indebted country’s crisis has shaken confidence in banks and raised concerns over its ability to repay one of the world’s highest levels of public debt.

Seeking to prevent capital flight as hard currency inflows slowed and anti-government protests erupted, banks have been imposing informal controls on access to cash and transfers abroad since last October.

A new government was formed this week, and its main task is to tackle the dire financial crisis that has seen the Lebanese pound weaken against the dollar.

Habtoor had asked Salameh for clarity for Arab investors concerned about the crisis and those thinking of transferring funds to Lebanon to try to “help the brotherly Lebanese”.

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Libyan central bank chief says oil blockade must be lifted By Reuters


© Reuters. Libyan central bank chief says oil blockade must be lifted

By Ahmad Ghaddar

LONDON (Reuters) – A blockade of major Libyan oil ports is damaging the economy and must be quickly resolved, the Tripoli-based central bank governor told Reuters on Friday, adding that Libya could run a budget deficit in 2020 as a result.

“Now oil represents 93-95% of total revenue and covers 70% of total spending. This is a bullet in the head, that will hurt Libya and the Libyan people,” Sadiq al-Kabir said in an interview in London. “We really hope the crisis is resolved as fast as possible because it hurts everyone.”

Libya’s internationally recognized prime minister Fayez al-Serraj has warned of catastrophe if the week-long blockade by eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces, which has cut oil output to almost zero, is not lifted.

Previously, oil production was 1.2 million barrels a day.

Kabir said the central bank had not yet agreed on a budget for 2020 with the internationally recognized government, which had proposed a budget deficit of 17.5 billion dinars.

“We rejected that and asked them to trim spending,” he said, adding that a deficit was still possible due to the oil blockade.

Kabir has been challenged by eastern officials, which have set up their own government and central bank branch selling bonds outside the official financial system to raise funds.

The national debt, exclusively in local currency, was now 50 billion dinars, Kabir said.

Eastern officials complain they do not benefit from oil revenues, accusations rejected by Tripoli officials as the Tripoli-based central bank funds some public salaries and fuel supplies to the east.

Kabir declined to give a figure for foreign reserves but said they had risen slightly in the last two years, when oil production was more stable than in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



UK confidence signs grow as Bank of England nears rate decision By Reuters



By Elizabeth Howcroft and Andy Bruce

LONDON (Reuters) – British households grew more confident about their finances and a measure of house prices rose by a record amount for January, according to surveys which added to other signs of a brightening mood in the economy since last month’s election.

Ten days before the Bank of England decides whether to cut interest rates, the surveys published on Monday suggested that some of the uncertainty that has weighed on the economy has lifted after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s big election win.

IHS Markit, a data firm, said its Household Finance Index rose to a one-year high of 44.6 in January from 43.2 in December, chiming with other sentiment surveys from both businesses and consumers that have shown an increase in optimism.

Earlier on Monday, property website Rightmove said asking prices for houses increased in January at a record pace for the month, up 2.3% compared with December.

Still, BoE officials are likely to want to see whether the cheerier mood has translated into actual spending as they weigh up whether to cut rates on Jan. 30.

“What data there has been released capturing the post-election period suggests that the outcome has had a positive effect on consumer and business sentiment,” analysts at RBC said in a research note.

“Our view remains that a majority of (BoE officials) will prefer to wait for evidence of how the economy is responding to the outcome of December’s election and the removal of near-term Brexit uncertainty before deciding on a policy move.”

Money markets currently price in a roughly 65% chance that the BoE will cut interest rates on Jan. 30, although economists in a Reuters poll of economists published last week are more skeptical. Sixty out of 68 forecast no change to rates.

Investors will be watching Friday’s “flash” IHS Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ indexes carefully for an early indication of the economy’s health this month.

Retail sales data last Friday showed an unexpected drop in December and investors will be eyeing Tuesday’s official labor market data for November carefully.

“Latest survey data certainly show some post-election bounce for UK households, with the headline index up to a one-year high and house price expectations at their strongest since October 2018,” Joe Hayes, an economist at IHS Markit, said.

Weakening inflation had helped to ease pressure on living costs, the survey showed.

However, a separate index measuring households’ expectations of future financial wellbeing slid back into negative territory in January, as gauges of perceptions of workplace activity and income weakened.

The proportion of households expecting a BoE rate cut “at some time” increased to 23.1%, while those expecting a rate hike in the next three months went down slightly to 19.5%, IHS Markit said.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



CEO says Bank of America aims to ‘double’ its U.S. consumer market share: FT By Reuters



(Reuters) – Brian Moynihan, the chief executive officer of Bank of America Corp (N:), has said the bank could double its consumer market share in the United States despite fears about the power of the country’s largest banking institutions.

“Our market share in consumer is probably 12, 13, 14 percent, depending on who counts . …  The reality is, you could double that,” Moynihan said https://on.ft.com/2NEtMda in an interview with the Financial Times, pointing out that some auto, soft drink and beer companies had massively more consumer share than Bank of America.

Moynihan did not provide a time frame in his interview for doubling the bank’s consumer market share.

“If we do a good job for the customers and clients and we’re fair in our pricing, I think that’s good because  …  the scale that we have enables us to do more for the customers,” he was quoted as saying, when asked whether greater concentration in banking was good for customers or likely to garner more scrutiny from regulators.

With deposits growing above the industry rate, a low risk loan portfolio and a strong balance sheet with billions in excess liquidity, the pieces were in place for the bank to continue taking market share, he told the FT.

The CEO of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender added that he would not look overseas for retail growth, as it would take years for the bank to achieve a market share capable of giving it material deposits or revenue.

Bank of America is the second largest bank in the United States, with consumer banking its biggest business.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



CEO says Bank of America aims to ‘double’ its U.S. consumer market share: FT


FILE PHOTO: Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

(Reuters) – Brian Moynihan, the chief executive officer of Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), has said the bank could double its consumer market share in the United States despite fears about the power of the country’s largest banking institutions.

“Our market share in consumer is probably 12, 13, 14 percent, depending on who counts . …  The reality is, you could double that,” Moynihan said on.ft.com/2NEtMda in an interview with the Financial Times, pointing out that some auto, soft drink and beer companies had massively more consumer share than Bank of America.

Moynihan did not provide a time frame in his interview for doubling the bank’s consumer market share.

“If we do a good job for the customers and clients and we’re fair in our pricing, I think that’s good because  …  the scale that we have enables us to do more for the customers,” he was quoted as saying, when asked whether greater concentration in banking was good for customers or likely to garner more scrutiny from regulators.

With deposits growing above the industry rate, a low risk loan portfolio and a strong balance sheet with billions in excess liquidity, the pieces were in place for the bank to continue taking market share, he told the FT.

The CEO of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender added that he would not look overseas for retail growth, as it would take years for the bank to achieve a market share capable of giving it material deposits or revenue.

Bank of America is the second largest bank in the United States, with consumer banking its biggest business.

Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Cooney



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Swiss-Regulated Digital Asset Bank Plans $95M Capital Raise By Cointelegraph



Seba, a young Swiss-based digital asset bank holding regulatory licensing, looks to attempt a secondary capital raise to garner over $95 million in additional funds.

During the raise, Seba aims to secure 100 million Swiss francs, equivalent to $96.5 million, “from new investors, including financial institutions, family offices and individuals,” Financial News London wrote in a Jan. 17 brief.

Continue Reading on Coin Telegraph

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Bank of Korea holds rates, citing stronger recovery and housing bubble risk By Reuters



By Cynthia Kim and Joori Roh

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s central bank kept its benchmark rate steady and struck an upbeat tone, citing signs of an improving trade environment and a resilient domestic backdrop that suggested policymakers are in no rush to lower borrowing costs again.

Annual inflation hit a record-low last year but analysts are split on whether there would be further easing, not least because a deal signed by the United States and China on Wednesday could entrench a recovery in the Korean economy.

The Bank of Korea’s policy board voted 5-2 to keep the base rate steady at 1.25%, as predicted by all 33 analysts surveyed by Reuters, standing pat for a second meeting following two reductions in July and October last year.

Analysts characterized the statement as less dovish than the previous one in November as it included a fresh clause highlighting better capital investment and concerns over surging home prices.

“The statement suggests policymakers are seeing a rebound in growth sentiment. It’s more hawkish than the previous one but doesn’t deviate too much,” said Paik Yoon-min, fixed-income analyst at Kyobo Securities, who sees one rate cut in 2020.

The March contract on 3-year treasury bond futures dropped after the statement was released but pared back as Governor Lee started speaking at a press conference. As of 0340 GMT, it was up 0.02 points from previous close to 110.31.

Governor Lee struck an optimist tone for the Korean economy for 2020, as “the U.S. and China managed to make progress with the Phase 1 deal and as many institutions are seeing a recovery in semiconductor industry from mid- this year.”

Despite earlier rate cuts, the BOK expects the economy to have expanded only 2.0% in 2019, the slowest in a decade.

Exports shrank for the 13th month in a row but December saw the smallest decline since April, raising hopes that global trade may be turning a corner after Asia’s fourth largest economy took a particularly hard hit on faltering demand from China and for its chips.

In a possible sign that the worst may be over, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (KS:) said last week its preliminary quarterly earnings beat estimates in the three months ending December.

Fourteen of the 33 analysts polled said they anticipated another cut within the year, with six predicting it would likely happen in the first quarter. Another 15, however, see no change for the year.

While some policymakers still favor a rate cut in any fresh move, some on the monetary policy board are wary that ultra-low rates could stoke a property bubble and undermine financial stability.

The median apartment price in Seoul in December 2019 was up almost 50% since President Moon Jae-in took office in May 2017.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Telegram’s Legal Battle With the SEC Heats Up Over TON Bank Records By Cointelegraph



Telegram’s battle with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission became one of the most closely followed legal dramas of the crypto space in 2019. This was not only because it appeared to be the first time the Durov brothers’ relentless expansion faltered but also because the court case could have lasting implications for future fintech projects around the world.

Although an initial court decision seemed to have allowed Telegram to maneuver around the request by the SEC to provide the company’s banking records, that decision has since been reversed. Telegram, however, confirmed that it would comply and issue the records — although most likely in a redacted form — by Jan. 15, even though the deadline is in late February.

Continue Reading on Coin Telegraph

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Bank of America beats on bond trading boost, loan growth By Reuters


© Reuters. A Bank of America building is seen in Los Angeles

(Reuters) – Bank of America Corp (NYSE:) beat analysts’ estimates for quarterly profit on Wednesday, as a boost from bond trading and growth in its loan book helped the second-biggest U.S. lender blunt a hit from lower interest rates.

Bond trading has been a bright spot for big U.S. banks that reported fourth-quarter results this week, largely due to easy comparisons from a year earlier when financial markets were selling off due to concerns over trade and global growth.

Bank of America reported a 25% rise in bond trading revenue, although that was far short of the 86% surge at JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:) and Co and a 49% jump at Citigroup Inc (NYSE:).

Loans grew 6% at Bank of America, significantly outpacing increases at Citigroup and JPMorgan. Bank’s deposits rose 5%.

“Solid client activity in growing loans and gathering deposits helped us offset spread compression,” Chief Financial Officer Paul Donofrio said in a statement.

However, revenue in consumer banking, the bank’s biggest business, fell 5% to $9.5 billion, largely due to the three interest rate cuts last year by the Federal Reserve.

The bank’s net interest margin, which measures how profitably a bank can lend out depositors’ funds, fell to 2.35% from 2.52% a year earlier, and from 2.41% in the prior quarter.

Bank of America is the most vulnerable among the big U.S. banks to fluctuations in interest rates because of its large deposit stock and rate-sensitive mortgage securities.

Net income applicable to common shareholders fell to $6.75 billion in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, from $7.04 billion a year earlier.

Excluding items, the bank reported a profit of 75 cents per share, beating analysts’ estimate of 68 cents.

Revenue, net of interest expense, fell slightly to $22.35 billion.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Lebanon central bank seeks extra powers, wants controls standardized By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Lebanon’s Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh speaks during a news conference at Central Bank in Beirut

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s central bank is seeking extra powers to regulate and standardize controls which commercial banks are imposing on depositors, the governor said on Sunday, saying his intention was to ensure “fair relationships” between banks and customers.

Seeking to prevent capital flight, commercial banks have been tightly controlling access to deposits and blocking most transfers abroad since October, when anti-government protests brought a long-brewing Lebanese economic crisis to a head.

The Lebanese authorities have not, however, introduced formal capital controls regulating these measures.

Central bank governor Riad Salameh, in a text message to Reuters, confirmed sending a letter to Lebanon’s finance minister on Jan. 9 seeking “exceptional powers necessary to issue regulations pertaining” to conditions in the sector.

He said no new measures were planned.

The letter, reported by Lebanese media late on Saturday, said the measures imposed by commercial banks needed to be regulated and unified “with the aim of implementing them fairly and equally on all depositors and clients”.

Lebanon’s caretaker government has not issued any statement on Salameh’s request, which was set out in a letter to caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil.

In the letter, Salameh said implementation of the controls by commercial banks had “on several occasions led to prejudicing the rights of some clients, particularly with respect to the unequal approach with other clients”.

He urged Khalil to work with the government “to take appropriate legal measures … to entrust (the central bank)” with the necessary extra powers.

In justifying this, he cited the need to “secure the public good, to protect banking and monetary stability … and to protect the legitimate interests of depositors and clients”.

Reflecting a hard currency shortage, commercial banks have gradually reduced the amount of dollars customers can withdraw since October. For most, the cap is now a few hundred dollars a week.

Lebanon is facing the worst economic crisis since its 1975-90 civil war, rooted in decades of state corruption and bad governance that have landed the country with one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.