Pound traders who held on during this year’s pasting have little to look forward to next week.
After falling to the lowest level in 5 1/2 years against the dollar on Friday, the U.K.’s currency may struggle to catch a break next week as reports are forecast to show inflation remained close to zero, wage growth slowed and retail sales dropped in the nation.
Sterling also weakened versus the euro, declining for an eighth consecutive week, its longest slide since 1999, as signs of weakness in the domestic economy and global shocks from China took the shine off Britain’s currency.
The Bank of England kept interest rates unchanged at a record low on Jan. 14, citing a weakening outlook for growth and inflation. The 10-year break-even rate, which acts as a gauge of the bond market’s outlook for U.K. price growth, dropped to its lowest level since 2009 following a slump in oil prices to the least in 12 years.
Commerzbank AG cut its forecasts for the pound Friday to $1.46 at year-end and $1.50 at the end of 2017, compared with earlier predictions of $1.52 and $1.53, respectively.
“The fall in oil prices and the decline in the pound simply has to be reflected in the forecasts,” said Esther Reichelt, a Frankfurt-based strategist at the German bank. “It’s nothing the Bank of England can ignore and recent data are rather disappointing. The headwinds to the British economy have definitely increased.”
The pound fell 1.6 percent in the week to $1.4289 at 5:12 p.m. London time Friday, after touching $1.4279, the least since May 2010. Sterling weakened 2 percent to 76.83 pence per euro.
The U.K. currency was undercut by banks pushing out their expectations for when the BOE will raise interest rates. The prospect of an entrenchment of record-low rates and a possible British exit from the European Union has added to the risks stacking up against the pound, which has seen banks across Europe slashing their forecasts. BOE Governor Mark Carney is scheduled to speak on Jan. 19.
The annual inflation rate will rise to 0.2 percent in December from 0.1 percent the previous month, according to the medium forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Weekly earnings will slow in the three months through November, while retail sales are forecast to have contracted last month, surveys show.
“We expect retail sales to come in weaker than expected, but importantly there is also the dynamics of earnings to be looked at,” said Roberto Mialich, a senior foreign-exchange strategist at UniCredit SpA in Milan. The market expects wage growth to decline “so clearly the near-term future for sterling will worsen and remain weak,” he said.
U.K. government bonds advanced this week. The 10-year benchmark yield fell 11 basis points, or 0.11 percentage point, to 1.66 percent. It touched 1.63 percent on Friday, the lowest since April. The 2 percent gilt due in September 2025 rose 0.96, or 9.60 pounds per 1,000-pound face amount, to 102.995.
Once Again The National Grid Collapsed
Nigeria’s electricity transmission system, also known as the National grid, has suffered another system collapse, plunging Lagos, the country’s commercial capital, Kano and other major cities into a blackout.
The collapse, which occurred about 11.00 am on Tuesday, was confirmed by two of the country’s electricity distribution companies in separate messages to their customers.
“We regret to inform you that the power outage being experienced across our franchise – Kaduna, Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states – is as a result of the collapse of the national grid,” Kaduna Electric said on Twitter.
Eko Electricity Distribution Company Plc, in a text message to its customers, said: “Dear customer, there is a partial system collapse on the national grid. Our TCN partners are working to restore supply immediately. Please bear with us.”
The grid, which is being managed by the government-owned Transmission Company of Nigeria, has continued to suffer system collapse over the years amid a lack of spinning reserve that is meant to forestall such occurrences.
Spinning reserve is the generation capacity that is online but unloaded and that can respond within 10 minutes to compensate for generation or transmission outages.
FG Consider Diversification To Generate Revenue
As revenue from oil nosedives following incessant global price fluctuations, the Federal Government is now channeling efforts to the development of minerals in the mines and steel industry to shore up foreign exchange earnings.
Officials of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development said on Wednesday that while there had been concerted efforts to develop various minerals in the sector, much emphasis had been placed recently on the development of bitumen, barite and gold.
They told our correspondent in Abuja that the government through the mines and steel ministry was striving to diversify the Nigerian economy away from oil as the major foreign exchange earner for Nigeria.
They also confirmed that large quantities of gold had been discovered in various locations in Zamfara and Osun states.
Asked if the government had initiated programmes to explore the minerals and boost revenues now that the country’s income had plunged, the Special Assistant on Media to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Ayodeji Adeyemi, replied in the affirmative.
He said, “Indeed, the ministry has the mandate to generate revenue and diversify the economy through the mines sector.
“And bitumen is one of the key resources which the nation is abundantly endowed with, that has been identified for strategic development.”
To buttress his position, Adeyemi shared some recent presentations of the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, where the minister said his ministry was gathering data on some bitumen fields across the country to attract investors.
“A lot of people are interested in bitumen, which is coming from both local and foreign investors. However, we are still acquiring data in some of the fields,” the minister stated.
On barite, the minister said the mines and steel ministry was working on raising the quality of barite produced in Nigeria to an internationally acceptable standard, as certified by the American Petroleum Institute.
Adegbite said his ministry had contracted a consultant to help raise the standard in the local production of barite to ensure that oil industry players make use of barite produced in Nigeria as against importing the commodity from other countries.
He said, “Barite is a critical weighting material in drilling fluids used in the oil industry. We have a lot of barites but the issue is that it is not produced to API standards. However, we are putting a system in place which would be ready to launch in about July.
“We have got the millers who can produce barite to API standard. Hence we will be able to compete with foreigners and it would save Nigeria a lot of foreign exchange in import substitution.”
On the development of gold, officials at the ministry further stated that the commodity had been aggregated for the production of bullion bars and that this was the first time that such aggregation was happening in Nigeria.
They stated that the gold was sourced from artisanal miners, while the final refining to bullion was done in Turkey.
The sources stated that the ministry had registered two refineries that would now refine to LBMA standard when they come on stream. LBMA is the de facto standard, trusted around the world.
Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority Generates N160.06 Billion in 2020
The Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) generated revenue of N160.06 billion in 2020, according to the latest audited financial reports announced by the Managing Director of NSIA Mr. Uche Orji.
The NSIA income came from devaluation gain of N51 billion, and core income of N109 billion compared to N33.07 billion in 2019.
But Orji lamented: “Covid-19 adversely affected logistics around infrastructure projects, especially the toll road projects and the presidential fertiliser initiative.”
Despite the pandemic, the Authority achieved 33 percent growth in Net Assets to N772.75 billion compared to the previous year’s performance of N579.54 billion.
Orji said the NSIA “received additional contribution of $250 million; and provided first stabilisation support to the Federal Government of $150 million withdrawn from Stabilisation Fund last year.”
The same year, the NSIA received $311 million from funds recovered from the late General Abacha from the United States Department of Justice and Island of Jersey for deployment towards the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) projects of Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Highway, Lagos Ibadan Expressway and Second Niger Bridge.
In response to COVID-19, Orji said: “NSIA partnered the global Citizen, a not-for profit group, to form the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund. Separately NSIA acquired and distributed oxygen concentrators to the 21-teaching hospital as part of corporate social responsibility; in addition to staffing support to the Presidential taskforce on COVID-19.”
In 2020, the NSIA “invested additional capital into NG Clearing, the first derivative clearing house in Nigeria to maintain NSIA’s shareholding at 16.5 per cent following the company’s rights issue of 2020″ Orji said.
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