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Manufacturers Back Finance Minister’s Call For Interest Rate Cut

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The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria to lower interest rate so that the government can borrow domestically to boost the economy without increasing debt servicing costs.

While reacting to the minister’s call, the President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Dr. Frank Jacobs, said that a cut in interest rate would be the best thing to happen to the economy.

“He said, “It will be the best thing that has ever happened to the economy, particularly the manufacturing sector.

“It is what we have been agitating for since and if the interest rate is brought down, it will be the best decision in the current economic dispensation.”

The government is also planning an “immediate large injection of funds” through asset sales, advance payments for licence renewals and infrastructure concessions, the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, said.

Adeosun said she was working with the Debt Management Office, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority and the pension industry to issue an infrastructure bond to raise money for road and housing projects.

She urged the central bank to reconsider its July interest rate increase, which it implemented to help support the naira and attract foreign investment.

The central bank is due to announce its next rate decision today (Tuesday) after the conclusion of its Monetary Policy Committee meeting, with some economists predicting that it will keep the key interest rate at 14 per cent, while others maintain that a cut is inevitable.

Adeosun told CNBC Africa, “We need lower interest rates, because when we are borrowing and interest rates go up, it increases our cost of debt service and it reduces the amount of money that is available to spend on capital projects.

“The attempt was to manage inflation and the trade-off for the economy right now is what is a bigger problem: Is it growth or inflation? For me it is growth. I would rather seek growth. We can manage inflation. I think for us, at the moment in the Nigerian economy, growth is the most important thing.”

Udoma told a business conference that the government planned asset sales to inject more funds into the economy but gave no details. The government has spent almost N800bn on capital expenditures since the budget was approved in May, officials told Reuters.

The minister also said the government had almost finished preparing a bill for the National Assembly to approve emergency powers for President Muhammadu Buhari to improve the business climate.

Adeosun said some adjustment was needed to narrow the spread between the official and black market currency rates, which is running at 25 per cent since the central bank floated the naira.

“We still need to make some necessary adjustments to ensure that the spread is narrow, so that we have true price discovery,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Finance minister said the country had received commitments to its planned $1bn Eurobond from international investors, which it aims to issue before the end of the year, but insisted that pricing would be key.

The government is currently seeking advisers and book runners and is currently accepting proposals from international and local banks for the bond sale, according to Bloomberg.

“We already have quite strong indications and indeed we had some commitments. Even though we weren’t doing a deal, we already have commitments to our bond offer; so, we are very confident that it is just a question of pricing,” Adeosun said.

The minister also said the regulators had approved plans to enable the investment of as much as $20bn of pension funds in the development of infrastructure.

The Securities and Exchange Commission and the National Pension Commission have approved “a new instrument that will allow pension funds to invest in infrastructure bonds,” Adeosun said at a meeting of business leaders in Abuja on Monday.

“That’s what will drive, for example, our social housing and our roads programme outside the budget,” she added.

Renowned economist and Chief Executive Officer, Financial Derivatives Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, said in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents that he and other experts had before now stressed the need to reduce the interest rate.

He said, “There is no other way but to reduce the interest rate. During recession, Britain brought down interest rate; and in the US during the recession, what did they do? They brought down interest rate as well. So, we need to bring down the interest rate.”

The Director-General, West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management, Prof. Akpan Ekpo, who lent his voice to the call for a cut in interest rate, said, “That is the only way to fast-track the recovery of the economy. The interest rate must be reduced to close to single digit, if not single digit, in order to stimulate the real sector. Now, it is an average of 25 per cent and that is too high.

“The real sector is dead now; when you are in a recession and the real sector is dead, then the recession will last for long.”

Ekpo said the Monetary Policy Rate, which is the benchmark interest rate, should be reduced to 10 per cent from the current 14 per cent so that the lending rate would be around 13 to 14 per cent.

The Monetary Policy Committee of the CBN had at the end of its meeting in July raised the MPR to 14 per cent from 12 per cent.

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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Crude Oil

Crude Oil Drops on Wednesday as U.S. Oil Inventories Jump Unexpectedly

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Crude oil - Investors King

Global oil prices fell by 1 percent on Wednesday after data from the U.S. Energy Department showed that the United States oil inventories unexpectedly rose by 4.3 million barrels last week. More than the 1.9 million barrels predicted by experts.

The unexpected increase in United States inventories weighed on crude oil prices on Wednesday, erasing $1.31 or 1.5 percent from Brent crude oil after it rose to a seven-year high on Tuesday. While the U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) dipped by $1.09 or 1.3 percent to $83.56 a barrel.

Still, gasoline stocks declined by 2 million barrels across the United States, a situation likely to push pump prices even higher.

“The market continues to deplete Cushing crude oil inventories and that is impacting the Brent-WTI spread and ultimately we’re going to see crude oil diverted from the Permian up to Cushing rather than going to the Gulf Coast,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.

However, the shaky COVID-19 recovery in most economies has led to doubts over the sustainability of rising oil prices.

“(Some) countries are falling into an autumn Covid-19 case spike,” said Louise Dickson, senior oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy, “which poses downside risk for oil demand growth in the very near-term and could provide a soft pressure on oil prices.”

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Crude Oil

Brent Crude Oil Extends Gain to $86.66 a Barrel Amid Tight Supply

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Brent crude oil - Investors King

Tight global oil supply pushed Brent crude oil, against which Nigeria oil is priced, to a multi-year high of $86.66 per barrel on Monday at 3:30 pm Nigerian time.

Oil price was lifted by rising fuel demand in the United States and tight global supply as economies recover from pandemic-induced slumps.

The global energy supply crunch continues to show its teeth, as oil prices extend their upward march this week, a result of traders pricing in the ongoing rise in fuel demand – which amid limited supply response is depleting global stockpiles,” said Louise Dickson, senior oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy.

Goldman Sachs on the other hand is predicting a further increase in Brent crude oil to $90 a barrel, citing a strong rebound in global oil demand due to switching from gas to oil. This the bank estimated may contribute about 1 million barrels per day to global oil demand.

The investment bank said it expects oil demand to reach around 100 million barrels per day as consumption in Asia increases after the devastating effect of COVID-19.

While not our base-case, such persistence would pose upside risk to our $90/bbl year-end Brent price forecast,” Goldman said in a research note dated Oct. 24.

Earlier this month, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and their allies, known as OPEC+ agreed to continue increasing oil supply by 400,000 bpd a month until April 2022 despite calls for an increase in global oil supplies.

The decision bolstered the price of Brent crude oil above $84 per barrel and expected to push the price even further to $90 a barrel. Low global oil supply amid rising demand for crude oil will continue to support oil prices in the near term.

Despite the recent power cuts and impacts to industrial activity in China, oil demand is likely instead supported by switching to diesel powered generators and diesel engines in LNG trucks, as well as by a ramp up in coal production,” Goldman Sachs stated.

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Energy

U.S. and Ghana Inaugurate New $64.7 Million Energy Infrastructure Investment at Pokuase

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U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie Sullivan joined the President of Ghana H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo and other Ghana government officials to formally inaugurate the Pokuase Bulk Supply Point (BSP) in Accra today.  The U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) funded the $64.7 million (GH₵ 391.9 million) electrical infrastructure project under the Ghana Power Compact.

“The Pokuase Bulk Supply Point represents sustainable infrastructure investment by the United States with Ghana that will benefit hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians now and into the future,” remarked Ambassador Sullivan at the inaugural event. “It will help deliver more reliable power to the people, places, and businesses of Accra that drive increased economic activity benefitting families, businesses, and communities.”

This represents a flagship investment under the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Ghana Power Compact.  The Pokuase BSP will reduce outages in the power system, help stabilize voltages, and improve the quality and reliability of power supplied to the northern parts of the capital city of Accra.  It will also reduce technical losses in the power transmission and distribution system, contributing to the financial viability of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) in the long term.  The Pokuase BSP is now the largest-capacity BSP in Ghana at 580 megavolt amperes (MVA) and will directly benefit 350,000 utility customers.

The Government of Ghana implemented the project through the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA).  MiDA formally handed over the new power substation to ECG and GRIDCo in today’s ceremony.

The Pokuase BSP is the first major construction project to be completed under the Ghana Power Compact. The $316 million compact is helping the Government of Ghana improve the power sector through investments that will provide more reliable and affordable electricity to Ghana’s businesses and households. The compact is also funding a BSP at Kasoa and two primary substations at Kanda and Legon, in addition to other power sector investments, energy efficiency programs, and women’s empowerment programs within the power sector. The compact program will officially close on June 6, 2022.

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