India’s central bank left interest rates unchanged after four cuts this year to meet inflation targets that are starting to look more vulnerable.
Governor Raghuram Rajan kept the benchmark repurchase rate at 6.75 percent, the Reserve Bank of India said in a statement in Mumbai on Tuesday. The move was predicted by all 47 economists in a Bloomberg survey.
“The Reserve Bank will use the space for further accommodation, when available, while keeping the economy anchored to the projected disinflation path that should take inflation down to 5 percent by March 2017,” Rajan said.
Rajan, who took advantage of a commodity slump to slash one of Asia’s highest borrowing costs, now has to contend with rising food prices that are fanning inflationary pressures. An anticipated increase in U.S. interest rates this month also risks triggering capital outflows.
“There are three events which the RBI will wait for before moving,” said Sujan Hajra, a Mumbai-based economist at Anand Rathi Financial Services Ltd. “The monetary policy stance of the Fed, what’s happening to the budget and the impact of the pay commission on inflation. Pending this, we don’t expect RBI to do anything in the next two-three months.”
Consumer-price gains accelerated to 5 percent in October led by a surge in food items such as lentils, matching Rajan’s target for March 2017. Such spikes have contributed to pushing up inflation expectations, a key obstacle in the fight to bring the gauge toward 4 percent a year later.
India’s rupee and stocks pared gains. The currency weakened to 66.5275 a dollar as of 11:45 a.m. in Mumbai from 66.4350 before the decision and the S&P BSE Sensex Index was 0.2 percent higher. The yield on the benchmark 10-year note was at 7.75 percent.
Access Holdings Posts 52.6% Profit for the First Half of the Year
Parent Company of Access Bank Celebrates Remarkable Financial Performance in H1’23
Access Holdings Plc, the parent company of Access Bank, has reported a 58.9 percent surge in gross revenue to N940.3 billion for the first half of 2023.
The financial services giant also recorded remarkable growth in Profit Before Tax (PBT) and Profit After Tax (PAT) at 71.4 percent and 52.6 percent, respectively, culminating in N167.6 billion for PBT and N135.4 billion for PAT during the same period.
These financial milestones were unveiled as part of Access Holdings’ Audited Consolidated and Separate Financial Statements for the period concluding on June 30, 2023.
The driving force behind this unprecedented growth can be attributed to a potent combination of factors. A 63.0 percent growth in interest income and a 51.9 percent increase in non-interest income fueled the surge in gross revenue.
Access Holdings also witnessed a 35 percent year-to-date growth in customer deposits, capping the first half of 2023 at an impressive N12.5 trillion. This remarkable achievement encompassed all business segments, reinforcing the Group’s status as Nigeria’s largest financial institution by total assets.
The company’s total assets grew by 39.0 percent year-on-year to N20.9 trillion while shareholders’ funds surged by 40.6 percent to N1.7 trillion.
These astounding figures underline the Group’s ability to generate value from a diversified business portfolio, spanning banking, asset management, and payment services.
Herbert Wigwe, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc, commented on the company’s positive performance, saying, “Our growth plans for the African continent remain firm and clear, driven by the strong long-term growth prospects and trade opportunities seen across many of the countries.”
He went on to emphasize the company’s commitment to its 5-year cyclical strategy, stating, “Our primary objective remains to transform Access Holdings Plc into a leading financial and ecosystem player, fostering opportunities for shared prosperity among all stakeholders.”
Naira Struggles as Apex Bank Delays Clearing $10 Billion Forex Debts
The Nigerian economy is facing growing uncertainty as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has yet to fulfill its promise of clearing over $10 billion in foreign exchange debts owed to Deposit Money Banks (DMBs).
This delay has placed immense pressure on the country’s currency, leading to a challenging situation for both financial institutions and the general public.
Over two weeks ago, the immediate past acting CBN Governor, Folashodun Shonubi, had announced that negotiations on these dollar debts with commercial banks had been concluded and all forex exchange backlogs would be cleared within one to two weeks.
However, multiple top bank executives have revealed that the promise remains unfulfilled, leaving banks in a tight FX liquidity position.
This liquidity crunch has compelled many lenders to temporarily suspend various FX transactions, including school fees and Personal Travel Allowance applications. The situation has also worsened the dollar scarcity at the parallel market, prompting bank customers to turn to the black market to meet their forex needs.
The delay in clearing these forex debts has further eroded confidence in the naira, resulting in a decline in its value to between 990/$ and 995/$ in major cities like Lagos, Abuja, and Kano.
Economic experts warn that if the situation persists, it could lead to higher costs of goods and services, causing more businesses to shut down.
Manufacturers, who heavily rely on imported raw materials, fear that the rising costs will lead to unaffordable products and a preference for cheaper imported alternatives.
The appointment of a new CBN Governor, Dr. Olayemi Cardoso, comes at a critical time, with the central bank facing significant challenges related to the forex market and currency stability.
As the nation grapples with these economic pressures, it remains to be seen how the new leadership will address these issues and restore confidence in the financial markets.
Nigerian Banks’ Borrowings from CBN Surge 835% in a Month, Raising Liquidity Concerns
The Nigerian banking sector has witnessed an unprecedented 835% surge in borrowings from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in the span of just one month, igniting concerns over the nation’s liquidity stability.
Data reveals that banks’ dependence on the CBN has reached new heights, with their borrowings skyrocketing from a relatively modest N323.97 billion in August to N3.03 trillion in September. This remarkable increase underscores a growing reliance on the CBN’s support in times of financial stress.
This surge in borrowing activity has primarily been attributed to the CBN’s stringent monetary policies aimed at curbing inflation and managing the demand for foreign exchange. These policies have, in turn, squeezed commercial banks, compelling them to tap into the CBN’s Standing Lending Facility (SLF) for immediate liquidity needs.
Despite the escalating dependence on CBN funds, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the apex bank insists that the Nigerian banking sector remains fundamentally robust. MPC member Adenikinju Festus highlighted key indicators, including Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) and Non-Performing Loan (NPL) ratios, which still align with prudential standards. Furthermore, liquidity ratios have improved, and returns on equity and assets have risen.
However, the banking industry’s persistently high operating costs are raising alarms. In comparison to international standards, Nigerian banks are grappling with substantially higher operating expenses, prompting concerns about their long-term sustainability.
In a parallel development, the CBN’s Development Finance Department has disbursed a total of N9.714 trillion to various sectors of the economy over the past three years, with manufacturing and industries receiving the largest share at 32.6%.
Other sectors, including energy, agriculture, services, micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), export, and health, have also benefited significantly from these disbursements.
While the CBN remains committed to fostering sustainable economic growth, the surging dependence of Nigerian banks on short-term borrowings from the central bank is casting shadows on the sector’s long-term stability.
As Nigeria grapples with these liquidity concerns, the financial industry and regulators face the challenging task of charting a course towards a more resilient and sustainable banking environment.
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