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Dollar Set for Best Week Since November After Post-Fed Tumble

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The dollar headed for its best week since November, climbing from a nine-month low reached last week, as Federal Reserve policy makers hinted interest rates may rise in the next few months.

The U.S. currency rose against most of its major peers after Fed Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said officials may be getting close to lifting rates again, provided growth continues as forecast. Government releases on Thursday showed fewer jobless claims than forecast in the week through March 19 and durable goods orders fell less than projected last month. The yen fell for a sixth day against the dollar after a government report showed Japanese investors bought a record sum of overseas bonds and stocks last week.

Investors are slowly shifting back into the greenback after a cautious tone from Fed policy makers at their March 15-16 meeting sent the dollar tumbling. Traders are refocusing on the U.S. economy to evaluate whether incoming data can sustain a rebound in the currency. Employers probably continued to bolster the headcount this month, a report April 1 is forecast to show.

‘More Room’

“The dollar, from a broad perspective, I think there’s probably still some more room to strengthen, if the U.S. data’s good,” said Eric Stein, the Boston-based co-director of global fixed income at Eaton Vance Corp., which oversees around $302 billion. “Again, we get a dovish Fed statement that seems to lead to hawkish commentary afterwards.”

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, which tracks the greenback versus 10 peers, is set for a 1.3 percent gain this week, the biggest since the period ending Nov. 6 and added 0.2 percent to 1,201.76 at 11:32 a.m. in Tokyo on Friday. The dollar climbed 0.1 percent to 113.05 yen and rose 0.1 percent to $1.1163 per euro.

Markets in parts of Asia, including Hong Kong and Singapore, Europe and the U.S. are closed Friday for national holidays.

The yen headed for its biggest weekly decline against the greenback since the period ended Jan. 29., the day when the Bank of Japan announced decision to employ a negative interest-rate policy.

Chasing Yields

Japanese investors’ purchases of overseas equity and investment-fund shares as well as bonds totaled 2.59 trillion yen ($22.9 billion) in the week ended March 18, largest amount in Ministry of Finance data going back to 2005.

The increased overseas investment is leading to weakness in the yen, said Kenji Yoshii, Tokyo-based currency strategist at Mizuho Securities Co. “Domestic yields remain in negative zones so investors have no choice but to seek yields abroad. This trend will likely continue.”

Jun Kato, a senior fund manager in Tokyo at Shinkin Asset Management, said the dollar’s advance accelerated after technical resistance of 112.90 yen was broken, with markets eyeing 113.50 as the next target.

“The higher dollar trend is becoming more evident against the yen,” Kato said. “But the move broadly remains within an adjustment from the post-Fed bearishness.”

Gauging U.S. Data

U.S. data have steadily improved over the last few weeks, with Bloomberg’s gauge of economic surprises advancing to the highest in more than a year.

“The next rate increase may not be far off provided that the economy evolves as expected,” Bullard said in New York on Thursday. Futures contracts show traders see a 6 percent likelihood of a rate increase at policy makers’ meeting next month, and a 38 percent probability in June.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index has fallen 2.5 percent this year, after a 9 percent gain in 2015 and an 11 percent rally the year before.

“The data should continue to strengthen, it should continue to surprise a little bit and that should be sufficient for them to go in June,” Binky Chadha, chief global strategist at Deutsche Bank AG, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. The upside for the greenback may be limited as “the dollar itself has also priced in a lot.”

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.

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Energy

Fuel Scarcity: Petrol Sells N220 Per Litre in Nsukka

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Premium Motor Spirit, otherwise called petrol, now sells for between N200 and N220 per liter at the independent marketers’ service stations in Nsukka, Enugu State.

The News Agency of Nigeria is reporting the hike in the price against the official pump price of N162 per liter.

It said it started about a fortnight ago due to the scarcity of the commodity in the town and its environs.

Some residents of the town expressed deep worry over the development in separate interviews with NAN on Wednesday.

A civil servant, Stephen Ozioko, said the situation had further compounded the economic difficulties in the area.

Ozioko said many private car owners had been compelled to park their vehicles at home and move around in public transport.

He said: “Since the scarcity started, I decided to park my car and take public transport to the office and back home. N220 per liter is exorbitant and I cannot afford it considering my salary as a civil servant. I shall continue to use public transport until the situation returns to normal.”

A building material dealer, Timothy Ngwu, said the development had also led to an increase in transport fare in the area.

Ngwu said: “Some people now trek from Nsukka Old Park to Odenigbo Roundabout because of the 100 percent hike in fares from N50 to N100 by tricycle.

“Before now, transport fare from Nsukka to Enugu was N500, but transporters now charge between N800 and N1000.”

Also, a commuter bus driver, Victor Ogbonna, described the scarcity and hike in the price of petrol as “unfortunate and an ugly development”.

Ogbonna added: “Today, only a few filling stations are selling the commodity in Nsukka town, while others are shut.”

He alleged that some filling stations, which claimed to be out-of-stock, were selling to black marketers at night.

He said: “This is why black marketers have sprung up everywhere in the town, selling the commodity for about N300 per liter.”

NAN reports that virtually all the major marketers in the area have stopped the sale of petrol, claiming to be out-of-stock.

The people called on the government to urgently intervene in order to bring the situation under control and also put an end to its harsh economic effects on the messes.

NAN.

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Energy

DPR Targets N3.2T Revenue by Year-End

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Nigeria’s Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) will hit the N3.2 trillion revenue target by December 2021, according to its Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sarki Auwalu.

Auwalu made the disclosure when he led a delegation of the DPR management team to the Executive Secretary of Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Mr Bello Gusau, in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said that 70 percent of the revenue projection had already been met. “Last year, we exceed our revenue budget. We were given N1.5 trillion but we were able to generate N2.7trillion.

“This year, our revenue budget was N3.2 trillion. By the end of August 2021, we have generated up to 70 per cent.

“So, we with September, October, November and December, it is only the 30 per cent that we will work over,’’ he said

He noted that the government took advantage of fiscal terms within the old and new legislation, thereby creating a level of increased signature bonuses.

“We reorganise the work programme that is normally being done in the DPR to key into the new operational structure as we see it in the bill, now an act.

“That programme is being handled by the planning and strategic business unit as against what we use to have because the entire work programme is supposed to show not only technical but also commercial and viability of oil fields and to guarantee the return on investment for investors.

“We have also created an economic value and benchmarking unit to key into the new fiscal provisions of the PIA,’’ he said.

Commenting on capacity, Auwalu said the country stands at the advantage of exporting skills to emerging oil and gas countries across Africa with proper implementation of the newly passed Petroleum Industry Act.

This, he said, the DPR was ready to partner with the Fund to continue to build capacity in the oil and gas sector

He noted that the Federal Government was determined to create leeway that would encourage investors and drastically improve the nation’s petroleum industry.

He further noted that no fewer than 300 legal battles in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, which had been stalled for the past 20 years in courts, had been resolved through alternative dispute resolution.

According to Auwalu, the DPR is strategising well to ensure effective implementation of the PIA.

Responding, Gusau commended the DPR for enabling the industry and enhancing business activities in the oil and gas sector.

He said that DPR remained the head of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria adding that the Fund was grateful to benefit from the wealth of ideas from DPR.

“The last time we visited, we had a good discussion and issues raised are being implemented like tracking the inflow of funds in signature bonus accounts.

“We extended the meeting and involved ministry of Finance, Accountant General office and even the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“Sitting at field development plans and attending significant meetings, helped us to know where and what the industry is trying to do and it also helps to inform our decisions in training and capacity plans,’’ he said

He urged the DPR to continue on its effort to ensure an efficient and productive petroleum industry in Nigeria

He assured collaboration with all as the head of the implementation committee of the Petroleum Industry Act. (NAN)

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Energy

Lagos Signs MoU With Energy Firms On Power Supply

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Lagos State Government, through its Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, on Tuesday signed a Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) with Ikeja Electric and Sahara Power Group to increase power supply and provide uninterrupted power to residents of the State.

The agreement between Lagos State Government and the energy firms signed will also include the distribution of free prepaid meters to low-income areas, with the pilot phase of 20,000 meters to be distributed in the Alimosho Local Government Area of the State.

Speaking during the signing of the agreement at the Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa, the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Mr. Olalere Odusote, said the aim of the agreement is to increase power supply to at least 22 hours daily, from about eight to 12 hours daily.

The Commissioner said the implementation would start immediately, adding that Lagos State Government has identified a number of feeders that can provide power in 20,000 low-income areas with plans to replicate the initiative across the state.

He said: “This Memoranda of Agreement is to ensure the provision of uninterrupted power to residents, especially the low-income areas. It is also part of efforts to solve the problem of metering and infrastructure deficit to ensure these areas get power supply which is also measurable.

“The 20,000 meters have been procured by the state government and would be distributed free to low-income areas in Alimosho Local Government Area as the pilot phase. Our intention is to replicate this gesture in other areas of the state once the pilot phase is successfully executed.

“We have identified a number of feeders that can provide power in these communities and implementation would start immediately.”

Also speaking, the Managing Director of Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEDC), Folake Soetan expressed the firm’s readiness to support Lagos State Government in ensuring uninterrupted power supply to residents of the State.

In his address, the Managing Director of Sahara Power Group, Anthony Youdeowei, said his company will be transparent in its dealings with the Lagos State Government and Ikeja Electric to provide power supply for Lagosians.

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