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Pound Set to Extend Decline as Investors Anticipate BOE Rate Cut

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The pound looks set to extend its decline next week, when traders and economists predict the Bank of England will cut interest rates for the first time in more than seven years.

Sterling, which posted its third consecutive monthly drop against the dollar in July, has weakened versus all of its 31 major peers in the past three months. Britain’s vote in June to leave the European Union, along with recent economic data which underscored the ensuing setback to consumer confidence and business activity, have boosted speculation that the BOE will loosen monetary policy on Aug. 4.

All but two of the 46 economists in a Bloomberg survey forecast policy makers led by Governor Mark Carney will cut the key interest rate from a record-low 0.5 percent. While the median estimate in a separate survey was for the BOE to maintain its asset-purchase target at 375 billion pounds ($498 billion), the highest forecast of 525 billion pounds underlined the uncertainty over the extent of the BOE’s stimulus measures. The central bank will also release its quarterly Inflation Report.

“I think it’s a done deal that we’re going to get easing next week, but the question is just how aggressive,” said Lee Hardman, a foreign-exchange strategist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in London. “If we get a package of measures and not just a rate cut it will reinforce the weakening trend for the pound.”

Monthly Declines

The pound slid 0.3 percent this month to $1.3272 as of 5 p.m. London time Friday, having tumbled almost 9 percent in the previous two months. It dropped to a 31-year low of $1.2798 on July 6. Sterling weakened for a second month versus the euro, losing 0.9 percent to 84.16 pence.

Hardman said the U.K. currency was likely to end the year at $1.24, a level last seen in 1985.

BOE Monetary Policy Committee member Martin Weale shifted from his usually hawkish stance this week and supported immediate stimulus, boosting speculation the central bank will ease policy. Swaps signaled a 100 percent chance of a rate cut next week.
With such odds priced in, there is a risk policy measures fall short of what markets are predicting. The BOE voted 8-1 to refrain from any action this month, which prompted the pound to rally to its highest level in two weeks against the dollar.

‘Shock and Awe’

With traders bracing for the BOE to ease policy next week, Hardman said “it is a higher hurdle for them to out-dove current market expectations” and that could “help to potentially dampen the negative pound reaction.”

Neil Jones, head of hedge-fund sales at Mizuho Bank Ltd. in London, said the BOE may need to do more than the market is predicting to impact heavily on the currency.

“To be more bearish than what is factored, I would suggest a 40 basis-point cut and 50 billion pounds further on the QE front,” Jones said. “That would take it to beyond expectations and should provide a bit of an element of shock and awe. That would probably be the upper limits of what we could expect in terms of further measures.”

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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CBN Raises Customs Forex from N381/US$1 to N404.97/US$

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The Central Bank of Nigeria has raised the Naira exchange rate for cargo clearance from N381/US$1 to N404.97/US$1.

This was confirmed by Uche Ejesieme, the Public Relations Officer (PRO), Tin Can Island Customs Command.

The PRO explained that it was not the customs job description to raise the foreign exchange rate but that of the central bank.

The N24 difference has been implemented on the customs system managed by Web Fontaine.

Commenting on the situation, Kayode Farinto, the Vice President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, said the increase would further escalate inflation on import goods and hurt consumers’ buying power given the present economic situation.

An importer, Gboyega Adebari, who was shocked at the decision said stakeholders will be greatly affected by the decision.

According to him, “When we went to assess a job this morning, we were told that the exchange rate has been increased, though we have been expecting it, but we don’t expect that it would be so sudden. The implication of this on cargo clearance is that cost of clearance would increase by N24 difference.

“The cargoes that already enroute Nigeria would also be affected, the jobs that we want to clear this morning were affected.

“When you go back to the importer and request for money, they will tell you there is no notification of increase from customs, so the freight forwarders are the ones that would bear the additional cost.”

Naira plunged to N502 against the United States Dollar at the parallel market on Wednesday and traded at N715 to a British Pound and N605 against the European common currency, Euro.

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Naira Hits N502 Against U.S Dollar at the Black Market

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Persistent dollar scarcity amid devaluation and economic uncertainties plunged the Nigerian Naira to N502 per U.S Dollar at the parallel market, popularly known as the black market.

The local currency traded at N715 to a British Pound and N605 to a Euro on Wednesday morning.

At the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Rate Fixing Methodology (NAFEX), the Naira opened at N411.15 to a United States Dollar before dropping to as low as N421.96 and eventually closing at N411.5.

The Central Bank of Nigeria had adopted the NAFEX rate as the nation’s official rate when it became clear that the apex can no long sustain Naira’s fixed-rate amid dwindling foreign reserves and weak revenue generation.

The NAFEX rate, popularly known as the Investors and Exporters Forex Window, was quoted as N410.15 to a United States Dollar on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 on the central bank’s official website.

The apex bank decision to devalue the Naira despite the ongoing economic challenges in Africa’s largest economy was because of the pressure from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, demanding the federal government to allow forces of demand and supply to determine the naira exchange rate against pegged Naira-USD rate.

However, with the Federal Government looking for approval from the two multilateral institutions for fresh loans, it became necessary to enforce those demands before new loan applications could be approved.

The World Bank raised Nigeria’s growth rate from 1.1 percent to 1.8 percent in 2021, saying a series of structural reforms and market-determined exchange rates will help boost economic activities.

Also, oil prices were projected to remain high in the near term.

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South African Reserve Bank Imposes Administrative Sanctions on Authorised Dealer in Foreign Exchange with Limited Authority

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The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has imposed administrative sanctions on Master Currency (Pty) Limited, an Authorised Dealer in foreign exchange with limited authority (ADLA).

Authorised Dealers in foreign exchange (commercial banks) and ADLAs are persons authorised by the SARB to deal in foreign exchange transactions and are regulated accordingly. ADLAs include bureaux de change and are authorised to deal only in certain limited, designated foreign exchange transactions, including travel-related transactions.

The Financial Intelligence Centre Act 38 of 2001 (FIC Act) mandates the SARB to ensure that ADLAs have adequate controls in place to combat acts of money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Flowing from these responsibilities, the SARB inspects ADLAs to assess whether they  have  appropriate measures in place,as required by the FIC Act.

The administrative sanctions were imposed after the SARB conducted inspections at Master Currency (Pty) Limited, in terms of the FIC Act. The inspections found weaknesses in the control measures the ADLA, Master Currency (Pty) Limited, had in place to control anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism.

It should be noted that the administrative sanctions were imposed because of certain weaknesses that were detected in the ADLA’s control measures which inhibited the ADLA from proactively detecting financial crime, and not because it was found to have facilitated transactions involving money laundering or the financing of terrorism.

The administrative sanctions imposed are as follows:

  • a financial penalty of R100 000 in terms of section 45C(3)(e) of the FIC Act, for failing to provide ongoing training to employees to comply with the provisions of such Act in terms of section 43 thereof; and
  •  a directive in terms of section 45C(3)(c) of the FIC Act, to provide the requisite refresher training at all branches, and to submit confirmation and evidence that such training has been conducted and will continue to be conducted on an annual basis.

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