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Dudley Says September Hike Possible, Markets Too Complacent

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William Dudley

The Federal Reserve could potentially raise interest rates as soon as next month, New York Fed President William Dudley said, warning investors that they are underestimating the likelihood of increases in borrowing costs.

“We’re edging closer towards the point in time where it will be appropriate, I think, to raise interest rates further,” Dudley, who serves as vice chairman of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee, said Tuesday on Fox Business Network. Asked whether the FOMC could vote to raise the benchmark rate at its next meeting Sept. 20-21, Dudley said, “I think it’s possible.”

Investors expect about one rate hike between now and the end of next year, according to federal funds futures contracts, and they marked up probabilities only slightly on Tuesday. Dudley said such estimates are “too low” and that “the market is complacent about the need for gradually snugging up short-term interest rates over the next year or so.”

“We are looking for growth in the second half of the year that will be stronger than the first half,” Dudley said. “I think the labor market is going to continue to tighten, and in that environment I think we are getting closer to the day where we are going to have to snug up interest rates a little bit.”

The FOMC left interest rates unchanged when it met last month, but said in a post-meeting statement that “near-term risks to the economic outlook have diminished.” The Fed will publish minutes of that meeting Wednesday at 2 p.m. in Washington.

Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, also speaking Tuesday, said he’s confident growth is accelerating, setting the stage for one or two rate increases this year. He said he wouldn’t rule out one coming in September.

‘Serious Discussion’

“If the meeting were today, I think the economic data stream would justify a serious discussion of a rate increase,” Lockhart, who isn’t a voting member of the FOMC this year, told reporters after a speech in Knoxville, Tennessee. “Now we have more data to come in in the next few weeks before the meeting. We’ll see what that tells us. But I would not rule out September, at least for a serious discussion.”

While U.S. stocks rose to another record high on Monday, the New York Fed chief said he didn’t see any signs of asset bubbles that are “particularly disturbing.” At the same time, the bond market “looks a little bit stretched,” in part because major central banks are “creating a search for yield globally” through their bond-buying programs, he said. That demand is spilling over to the U.S., where Treasury yields are higher than in Japan, Germany and the U.K.

“The 10-year Treasury yield, at 1.5 percent, is pretty low in an environment where we think we are making progress towards our objective, we’re pretty close to full employment, we think inflation is going to trend back to 2 percent over the next couple of years,” Dudley said.

Brexit Risks

Even so, Dudley struck a cautious tone on the pace and ultimate amount of Fed tightening. He said near-term risks from the effects on financial markets of the U.K. vote in June to leave the European Union had diminished, but added that there were uncertainties about the longer-term economic impact and whether foreign central banks would be able to support global economic growth with negative interest-rate policies.

In the U.S., “there are reasons to think that monetary policy isn’t particularly stimulative right now, and you can sort of judge that by the fact that we only grew at a 1 percent annual rate in the first half of the year,” he said. “So we probably don’t have a lot of monetary policy tightenings to actually do over time.”

A Labor Department report released Aug. 5 showed two straight months of strong job creation in June and July following a tiny increase in May that raised worries about the health of the economy. The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, which has been below the central bank’s 2 percent target for four years, has been slow to pick up.

“In my mind, the inflation outlook really hasn’t changed very much,” Dudley said. “The key question is: Are we going to get enough growth to put pressure on resources, pushing up wages and gradually pushing up inflation towards 2 percent? So far we seem to be on that trajectory.”

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.

Forex

More Problem for CBN as Naira Approaches N500/US$ at the Black Market

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Forex Weekly Outlook March 6 - 10

Naira plunged against the United States Dollar to a record low of N495 at the black market on Thursday despite the Central Bank of Nigeria saying it has enough financial means to meet forex demands.

The Naira declined by N12 from N483 it exchanged on Monday amid persistent scarcity and high demands by importers and businesses looking to offset COVID-19 losses with the usual December high demand sales.

Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Tuesday blamed the wide foreign exchange rate at the black market on speculators and hoarders looking for personal gain at the expense of the nation.

He went on to caution experts using black market rates to analyse the local currency performance to stop and claimed that section of the forex only accounts for 5 percent of the nation’s total foreign exchange transactions.

While that might be true, it is also true that majority of manufacturers and businesses have turned to the black market for their forex needs in recent months, especially after it became obvious that the apex bank does not have enough liquidity to service the economy.

The nation’s foreign reserves has been battered by the weak oil prices and the continuous production cut by OPEC and allies to artificially support low prices. Nigeria’s foreign reserves is presently hovering between $35 billion and $36 billion after plunging from $45 billion attained in June 2019, according to the latest data from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Against the British Pound, the Nigerian Naira depreciated by N15 to N635 from N620 it exchanged on Monday. Another indication of chronic forex scarcity as the local currency also plunged to N580 against the European common currency, the Euro.

The wide forex is expected to further weigh on the nation’s inflation rate and consumer spending this December.

On Tuesday, the apex bank left the interest rate unchanged at 11.5 percent and attributed the rising inflation rate to structural policies, the recent #EndSARS protest and a surging fuel price.

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Forex

Naira Gains N1 to N483 Against US Dollar as CBN Warned Speculators of Impending Doom

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Naira Remains under pressure

The Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday warned speculators and hoarders of the United States Dollar against creating artificial forex scarcity for personal gain.

Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, said black market forex rates does not reflect the economic reality of the Nigerian Naira as that section of the forex is tainted with bribes and individuals looking to profit at the expense of the nation.

We do not agree that the determining factor for our currency should be based on a market that is tainted, where people go to offer bribes,” he stated during a virtual monetary policy committee briefing in Abuja.

The Nigerian Naira gained N1 against the United States dollar to trade at N483 at the parallel market also known as the black market, up from N484 it traded on Monday.

Emefiele said “The black market is illegal where people do not provide documentation to support transactions. It is unfortunate and unfair for analysts to say Nigeria’s exchange rate is at 480 per dollar.”

The Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) agreed with the central bank, saying speculators and currency hoarders are responsible for the wide forex rates. The association warned that speculators are going to lose money given that the apex bank has foreign reserves of $36 billion to support the local currency and meet forex demands.

The apex bank left the interest rate unchanged at 11.5 percent to further stimulate growth in the real sector and speed up the recovery process with cheaper loans. Other ratios were left unchanged as well.

Speaking on the rising inflation rate, Godwin Emefiele attributed the 14.23 percent increase in consumer prices to the rising pump price, the recent #EndSARS protest and structural policies.

Therefore, it looks like the apex bank will damn rising inflation for the first time to focus on economic productivity, new job creation and general growth.

The Naira CBN official rate remains $379 to a United States Dollar while it exchanged at N385 on the Investors and Exporters Forex Window on Tuesday.

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Forex

Bureaux De Change Association Warns Against Hoarding of US Dollar, Says Speculators will Lose

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Naira Dollar Exchange Rate

The Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) on Sunday warned currency speculators and hoarders of impending losses if they do not desist from creating bogus foreign exchange rates for personal gain.

In a statement titled, “ABCON warns speculators will lose money as CBN has enough reserves to fund market, defend naira”, the association said speculators and hoarders are taking a huge risk as the Central Bank of Nigeria has enough liquidity to defend the Naira and maintain stability against global foreign counterparts.

This is coming few days after the local currency plunged to N484 to a United States dollar and N620 against the British Pound at the black market due to the rising demand and persistent scarcity that most hoarders interpreted as lack of financial muscle on the part of the central bank, especially if the nation’s falling foreign reserves is factored in.

However, ABCON said with about $36 billion foreign reserves, the Central Bank of Nigeria has the necessary means to punish speculators and hoarders they described as enemies of the nation.

President of ABCON, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, explained that the central bank is working to unify the nation’s foreign exchange rates and eliminate past challenges that have made market determined forex rates almost impossible.

He said “I think that the CBN by pushing the official foreign exchange rate from N306 to N379 to the dollar is in line with market demand.

“It has also helped to narrow the official-parallel market rates gap that formed the basis of ridiculous speculations among unpatriotic forex dealers and spectators.

Gwadabe, however, advised the Federal Government to improve security surveillance at the nation’s land borders to checkmate illegal foreign currency cash deals.

He also asked the central bank to raise liquidity ratio of bureau de change operators to discourage dollar holdings.

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