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Dollar Heads For Steepest Three-Week Slide

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External Reserves

The dollar headed for its steepest three-week slide in more than four years as an increasingly cautious Federal Reserve spurred analysts and investors to reassess forecasts for the greenback.

A Bloomberg index tracking the U.S. currency against 10 major peers climbed from an eight-month low reached Friday, two days after Fed officials unexpectedly cut projections for interest-rate increases to two this year from the four they estimated in December. Macquarie Bank Ltd. and Morgan Stanley, two of the world’s top 10 currency forecasters, are highlighting the risk of more dollar weakness.

“The fact that they didn’t raise rates and wound back expectations for future increases in 2016 has obviously hurt the U.S. dollar,” said Derek Mumford, a director at Rochford Capital Pty in Sydney. “That can continue in the very near term.”

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose 0.2 percent to 1,185.52 as of 6:28 a.m. in New York, having fallen earlier to 1,180.83, the lowest since June 30. It has dropped 3.7 percent since Feb. 26, poised for the biggest three-week slump since October 2011. The greenback has depreciated at least 0.4 percent against all of its Group-of-10 peers since March 11.

Fed’s Outlook

The Fed meeting prompted investors to question whether the dollar’s rally has run out of steam. Bloomberg’s gauge had climbed 37 percent between its 2011 low and the closing peak reached on Jan. 22 of this year, as the promise of superior economic growth and rising interest rates contrasted with sluggish economic activities elsewhere.

“In terms of the relative difference in interest rates, the rally is over,” John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Countdown” with Manus Cranny and Anna Edwards. “The Fed has said we’re not going to be pushing this game like we were expected too.”

JPMorgan Chase & Co. lowered its year-end forecast for dollar-yen to 103 from 110 the same day. The median estimate is 120 among more than 60 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

The dollar was little changed at 111.38 yen Friday, on track for a 2.2 percent slide this week. It reached 110.67 on Thursday, the lowest since October 2014. The greenback gained 0.4 percent Friday to $1.1268 per euro, paring its weekly decline to 1 percent.

‘More Dovish’

“The Fed has become much more dovish — the market realizing maybe the Fed being a little bit more behind the curve,” Dominic Schnider, the head of commodities and Asia-Pacific foreign exchange at UBS Group AG’s wealth-management unit in Hong Kong, said Friday in a Bloomberg Television interview. “That’s simply not good for the dollar, and so we have this generic dollar weakness right now which will not disappear in the very short term.”

While Morgan Stanley and Macquarie agree on the prospects for near-term weakness, they remain dollar bulls.

The greenback will decline over a one-to-three month horizon, after which it will begin climbing again on a resumption of Fed tightening amid looser policy elsewhere, Macquarie strategists Nizam Idris, Gareth Berry and Teresa Lam wrote in a report Thursday.

“The falling USD has the characteristics of a pain trade that seems to have further to run,” Morgan Stanley analysts including Hans Redeker, the global head of currency strategy, wrote in a note the same day . However, “for the USD to experience a long-term trend change requires more than a dovish Fed.”

Bloomberg

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.

Finance

FG Borrowed $5.9B To Fight COVID-19 and Implement Budget – Minister of Finance

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Zainab Ahmed

The federal government borrowed about $5.9 billion in 2020, to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and implement its budget. The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, revealed this yesterday.

A statement issued by her Special Adviser, Media and Communications, Mr. Yunusa Abdullahi, yesterday, indicated that the minister told the Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI) General Assembly during a webinar, that the federal government had to move quickly to save the economy.

Speaking on Nigeria’s fiscal response – short term interventions and impact on public finances, as an immediate fiscal response, Mrs. Ahmed said: “We did the following: Procured a $3.4 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and about $2.5 billion in local currency from the domestic capital market to support the 2020 budget implementation), among others.”

She noted that the government then packaged a N500 billion for COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund in the 2020 revised budget, as part of a N2.3 trillion Economic Sustainability Plan.

Mrs. Ahmed said that the government had begun the process of moving the economy away from its primary dependence on oil for revenues and foreign exchange, and making steady gains in addressing infrastructure and human capital challenges before the pandemic hit the global economy.

With COVID-19, Nigeria’s Bonny Light crude oil price fell from a peak of US$72.2 per barrel on January 7, 2020 to below US$20 by April 2020.

She said, “In effect, the US$57 crude oil price benchmark approved in the 2020 budget became unrealistic triggering the need to adjust the following variables: reduction of crude oil benchmark price from US$57 per barrel to US$28 per barrel; reduction of daily crude oil production benchmark from 2.18 million barrels per day (mbpd) to 1.9 mbpd; adjustment of the official exchange rate to N360/US$1 from N305/$.”

Mrs. Ahmed revealed that part of the federal government Supplementary Budget on COVID-19 would be spent on the procurement of 29. 588 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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Banking Sector

Union Bank CEO, Godson Chukwuemeka Okonkwo Acquires 2.4 Million Shares in the Bank Ahead of Acquisition

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Union bank - Investors King

The Chief Executive Officer, Union Bank Plc, Godson Chukwuemeka Okonkwo, has purchased 2,431,917 ordinary shares of the bank, according to the latest disclosure filing from the lender.

The CEO acquired the 2,431,917 shares of Union Bank at N4.90 per share on Thursday 6th May 2021 from the floor of the Nigerian Exchange Ltd.

Okonkwo’s N11.916 million investment was after Investors King reported a possible acquisition of the bank by Zenith Bank or Access Bank following sources cited by Bloomberg.

Bloomberg said, “Atlas Mara Limited, the London Stock Exchange-listed pan-African banking group started by Mr. Bob Diamond has received a number of approaches for its 49.97 per cent holding in Lagos-based Union Bank of Nigeria.”

It also stated that Atlas Mara received interests from Nigerian and Middle Eastern lenders for its remaining assets on the continent, according to Bloomberg sources.

The sources claimed the banks in talks with Atlas Mara asked not to be identified as talks are private. But they mentioned Nigeria’s Zenith Bank Plc, Access Bank Plc and Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank as some of the banks that have so far expressed interests in acquiring Union Bank.

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Banking Sector

Zenith Bank, Access Bank, Others Express Interest in Acquiring Union Bank

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Atlas Mara - Investors King

Zenith Bank and Access Bank are some of the financial institutions in talks to acquire Atlas Mara Ltd.’s 49.97 percent stake in Union Bank Plc.

Bloomberg said, “Atlas Mara Limited, the London Stock Exchange-listed pan-African banking group started by Mr. Bob Diamond has received a number of approaches for its 49.97 per cent holding in Lagos-based Union Bank of Nigeria.”

It also stated that Atlas Mara received interests from Nigerian and Middle Eastern lenders for its remaining assets on the continent, according to Bloomberg sources.

The sources claimed the banks in talks with Atlas Mara asked not to be identified as talks are private. But they mentioned Nigeria’s Zenith Bank Plc, Access Bank Plc and Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank as some of the banks that have so far expressed interests in acquiring Union Bank.

Middle Eastern banks and private equity suitors have also shown interest, according to the people. Some potential buyers have indicated they may acquire all of Atlas Mara’s remaining assets in Africa, which would include its Zimbabwe unit, the people said.

Atlas Mara has been working with Rothschild & Co. to consider options for its Union Bank stake. No final decisions have been made, and there’s no certainty the deliberations will lead to a transaction, the people said.

Representatives for Atlas Mara and Zenith Bank didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Attijariwafa Bank Managing Director Ismail Douiri and a representative for Access Bank declined to comment.

Speaking on the matter, Frontier and Sub-saharan Africa Banks’ Analyst, Renaissance Capital, Adesoji Solanke, on Thursday said this is good for Atlas Mara.

He said “Good for Atlas Mara if they’re able to exit successfully, as they’ve been selling a bunch of assets over the past year, to KCB and Access Bank respectively across different markets. Whether they get a good valuation for Union Bank is another thing.

“We don’t think it’ll be a transformational deal for Access or Zenith (Return-on-Equity dilutive for both), but could be a good way for the Middle Eastern banks to get a decent foothold in the market. We suspect getting the other private equity investor block to sell will be critical as we wouldn’t expect a strategic bank investor to desire a minority shareholding.”

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