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Mario Draghi Hints at Further ECB Stimulus Moves

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Mario Draghi

European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi has said the bank will “review and possibly reconsider” monetary policy at its next meeting in March.

He said eurozone rates would “stay at present or lower levels for an extended period” and there would be “no limits” to action to reflate the eurozone.

His comments followed the ECB’s regular meeting, where it kept the bank’s benchmark rate unchanged at 0.05%.

The overnight deposit rate was also left unchanged at -0.3%.

At the ECB meeting in December, this rate had been cut from -0.2% in an attempt to push banks to lend instead of parking money at the ECB.

In December, the ECB had also extended its €60bn-a-month stimulus programme by six months to March 2017.

Eurozone inflation is currently running at 0.2%, way below the ECB’s target of near 2%.

“We have the power, willingness and determination to act. There are no limits how far we are willing to deploy our policy instruments,” Mr Draghi said.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said “the stimulus trigger looks cocked and ready to pull as soon as the March ECB meeting”.

‘Risks’

Mr Draghi told a news conference: “As we start the new year, downside risks have increased again amid heightened uncertainty about emerging market economies’ growth prospects, volatility in financial and commodity markets and geopolitical risks.”

He said that could make it necessary to review – and possibly reconsider – monetary policy at the next meeting in early March.

Mario Draghi most definitely doesn’t do panic. In fact, his demeanour in the news conference after the ECB’s governing council meeting didn’t even suggest mild anxiety. Still, his words made it plain that he and his policy-making colleagues have been watching the new year’s financial market gyrations very warily.

It’s not the ECB’s job to stabilise stock markets. The Bank’s job is to keep inflation in check, but it is currently too low: 0.2% compared with the ECB’s target of below, but close to, 2%.

The financial market turbulence, especially the fall in oil prices is one reason why, as Mr Draghi said, “inflation dynamics continue to be weaker than expected”. He told us the ECB will review policy at its next meeting in March. There is a strong chance of more action, probably extra quantitative easing, to stimulate inflation a bit more (yes really).

That meeting will have a new set of ECB macroeconomic projections to work with.

He said that the recent falls in the oil price meant that inflation was likely to be “significantly lower” compared with the outlook in early December.

Eurozone inflation was below zero – that is, prices were falling – as recently as September, mainly due to falls in international energy prices, particularly crude oil.

In December, Mr Draghi said that eurozone inflation was expected to reach 1% in 2016. However, the ECB’s forecasts were based on the assumption of oil prices averaging more than $50 a barrel this year, and oil is currently below $30.

Market reaction

Mr Draghi’s latest comments were seen as helping to calm stock markets, with shares in Europe rising as his news conference was under way.

His comments also weakened the euro, which briefly fell below $1.08 against the dollar before regaining ground.

“ECB president Draghi once again saw the equity markets confirm his ‘super’ status as they jumped almost as soon as he started his speech,” said Alastair McCaig, market analyst at IG.

“The emphasis shifted from ‘whatever it takes’ to ‘no limits’ where action is concerned, with the small caveat that nothing will happen until they have had their March meeting.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Economy

Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority Generates N160.06 Billion in 2020

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Naira Exchange Rates - Investors King

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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Economy

EFCC Recovers $153m, 80 Assets from Diezani, Says Bawa EFCC Chairman

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Diezani Allison-Madueke - Investors King

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa has said the commission recovered $153 million and 80 properties from the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Bawa said: “There are several cases surrounding that. As you may have read, I was part of that investigation, and we have done quite a lot. In one of the cases, we recovered $153 million; we have secured the final forfeiture of over 80 properties in Nigeria valued at about $80 million.

“We have done quite a bit on that. The other cases as it relates to the $115 million INEC bribery as the media has sensationalised it, is also ongoing across the federation.”

We are looking forward to the time when we will, maybe, have her in the country, and of course, review things and see what will happen going forward. The case has certainly not been abandoned.

Speaking on the trial of former Abia State Governor Orji Uzor Kalu, he said his trial will start soon in Lagos.

Bawa added: “The position is very clear. The EFCC succeeded in 12 years to get him convicted at the Federal High Court. Of course, he went to the Supreme Court, and because the judge that convicted him has been elevated, the ruling was made and the EFCC as a respecter of the rule of law, we have taken it as it is. The Supreme Court has ordered that we should go back to the Federal High Court in Lagos.

“Now, we are at the Federal High Court in Abuja, and we have applied to the court for the case to be transferred to Lagos as ordered by the Supreme Court to enable us start all over again.

“It, however, draws a precedence, and those are the issues; law as the lawyers will say, is a living thing; we had the ACJA in 2015, we have had this problem of elevation of judges from High Court to Court of Appeal, and we pushed that they should be given the opportunity to finish their cases, because some of these cases have taken a very long time.

“We thought we had succeeded in getting this in ACJA, The law was, however, not seen as such. Now, we may have to solve the problem from the constitution, and then, we will be home and dry.”

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Economy

Nigeria Consumes 93m Litres of Petrol Daily in April 2021

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Petrol - Investors King

Nigeria’s daily petrol consumption rose to a record-high of 93 million litres in April 2021, according to the latest data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The amount represents 77 percent of the 120.80 million litres consumed daily in West Africa despite having just 52 percent of the region’s population.

In previous months, Nigeria consumed 61 million litres on average, therefore, the NNPC stated that the 93 million litres per day consumption is unsustainable.

The sudden surged in petrol consumption was a result of smuggling, according to experts.

There is no doubt that Nigeria’s present petrol consumption is embarrassing, due to smuggling which is currently a thriving business,” Mike Osatuyi, national operations controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria.

On the allegation that marketers illegally export petrol, Osatuyi asked why the five security agencies across the borders are unable to stop it.

Smuggling of petrol across the borders is becoming more intense as Nigeria inches closer to full deregulation, one stakeholder said. Despite over 95 million Nigerians in poverty, the country inadvertently pays for cheap petrol across West Africa.

It means Nigeria is financing the economies of neighbouring countries,” Osatuyi said. “Nigeria should not be consuming more than 50 million litres per day.

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