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Recession: It’s up to You, CBN Tells Government

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  • Recession: It’s up to You, CBN Tells Government

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday admitted that its monetary policy tool has run out of options and that the economy could only get the needed support from effective implementation of fiscal policies.

The verdict formed the basis for the committee’s decision to retain benchmark rate at 14 percent and this confirms yesterday’s exclusive report by The Guardian about impending depression as there is no harmony between monetary and fiscal policies of government.

Fiscal policy is the means by which a government adjusts its spending levels and tax rates to monitor and influence the economy. It is the sister strategy to monetary policy with which the central bank influences money supply.

CBN’s statement sends a wrong signal to the economy,” Dr. Franklin Ngwu, who teaches Economics at the Lagos Business School, said by telephone.

“There are good points to what Governor Godwin Emefiele is saying but there is supposed to be proper synergy between the CBN and government to bring confidence to economic agents and investors.”

Ngwu argues that giving “impression of exhaustion” shows that the CBN and fiscal policy makers are not prepared to bring robust economic policies to address the current economic challenges.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Monday announced a third negative growth in three quarters. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) — one of the primary indicators used to gauge the health or size of a country’s economy — for third quarter (Q3) of the year shrank by -2.24 percent after recording -2.06 per cent in the preceding quarter ending June 30, 2016.

The apex bank after its committee’s meeting Tuesday retained all major rates. It kept the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) — the minimum rate banks borrow from the CBN — at 14 per cent; Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR), 22.5 per cent; and Liquidity Ratio, 30 per cent. 
 The asymmetric window (representing allowance for banks’ lending) was left at +200 and -500 basis points around the MPR. This means the apex bank will lend to banks at 16 per cent and borrow from them at nine per cent.

This is the second time apex bank is keeping main interest rate on hold since the July increase to 14 per cent, as it strengthens its efforts to battle the galloping inflation.Emefiele, said inflation was largely structural and so the CBN’s current tight monetary policy stance combined with an improved agricultural harvest should limit growth prices of goods and services.

He said he would expect fiscal policy to do most of the work of improving Nigeria’s growth performance.“Considering the importance of price stability and being mindful of the limitations of monetary policy in influencing output and employment under the conditions of stagflation, committee decided unanimously in favour of retaining the current stance of monetary policy,” he said.

Meanwhile, the committee has urged government to devise strategies to settle its contractual obligations, which sit across all sectors of the economy.“These accumulated debts have slowed business activities of economic agents; most of who are indebted to the banking system, thus compromising the integrity of the financial system.

“As we are about to enter 2017, there is need for the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to quickly inflate the economy, there is a most urgent need to pay all outstanding salaries of workers in Federal, State and Local government.

“The economic team should be strengthened with more capable hands with a clear economic direction for the country urgently provided. “For a start, we need to clearly identify our areas of comparative advantage which interestingly is in Agriculture and informal economy and then robustly support each of our six geo-political regions to specialise in two or three. Nigeria is an economy with two limitedly sub-economies —the formal 25 percent and the informal, about 75 percent.”

Ngwu advised the CBN to rethink its approach in policy formulation and implementation while government policies should be evaluated and approved based on their job-creating impact. “Outside good economic policies, of fundamental importance is the need to moderate the tone of governance from the current perception of division, acrimony and negativity to that of hope, unity and prosperity,” said Dr Ngwu.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Oil Prices Surge in Asian Trading on OPEC+ Meeting Expectations

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Oil prices surged during Asian trading hours on Wednesday amid mounting expectations that major oil-producing nations will uphold output cuts at an impending meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, collectively known as OPEC+.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, gained 18 cents, or 0.2% to $84.40 per barrel while the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) rose by 28 cents, or 0.3%, to $80.11.

The anticipation gripping traders and analysts alike centers on OPEC+ sustaining voluntary production cuts, which currently total about 2.2 million barrels per day.

Sugandha Sachdeva, founder of Delhi-based research firm SS WealthStreet, underscored the significance of this move, asserting that it would be perceived as a concerted effort to stabilize prices and rebalance the global oil market.

Sachdeva further elaborated on the factors bolstering oil prices, noting, “The onset of the summer driving season in the U.S. spurs a seasonal uptick in consumption and typically aids a positive momentum in crude oil prices.”

As the Memorial Day holiday heralds the commencement of the peak demand season in the United States, the world’s foremost oil consumer, the decision to maintain production cuts is poised to lend support to prices as consumption surges.

Daniel Hynes, senior commodity strategist at ANZ Bank, remarked on the robust holiday travel activity witnessed in the U.S., both on roads and in the air.

However, amidst the optimism surrounding the OPEC+ meeting, concerns over heightened tensions in the Gaza Strip added a geopolitical dimension to market dynamics.

Israeli tank advancements into the heart of the Rafah section fueled apprehensions about a potential escalation of conflict in the broader Middle East, a region critical to global oil supply.

Market participants also awaited the release of U.S. crude inventory data from the American Petroleum Institute later in the day, with preliminary expectations suggesting a decline of approximately 1.9 million barrels for the previous week.

Additionally, investor attention was drawn to forthcoming U.S. inflation data, set to influence expectations regarding Federal Reserve interest rate decisions and, consequently, impact oil prices.

The U.S. core Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index report for April, scheduled for release on Friday, is projected to hold steady on a monthly basis.

Against this backdrop of anticipation and geopolitical tensions, the oil market navigates a landscape shaped by supply dynamics, demand prospects, and macroeconomic indicators, all of which converge to define the trajectory of oil prices in the coming days.

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Oil Revenue Decline Spurs South Sudan to Seek $250 Million IMF Assistance

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South Sudan is seeking $250 million in financing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to address its ongoing balance of payment challenges and stimulate economic growth.

The request comes in response to a significant decline in oil revenue, a crucial source of the nation’s income, following damage to a key pipeline.

The pipeline, which transports two-thirds of South Sudan’s crude oil, sustained damage in February.

Repairs have been delayed due to conflicts in neighboring Sudan, where the conduit passes through areas controlled by the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

Also, a blockade on the Red Sea has further hampered oil exports, exacerbating the economic strain.

Bank of South Sudan Governor James Alic Garang, speaking at the African Development Bank’s annual meetings in Nairobi, emphasized the urgency of securing alternative financial support.

“We are facing severe challenges with our oil exports, which constitute about 90% of our revenue,” Garang said. “The impact on our economy is profound, reducing the volume of oil available for international markets and decreasing the hard currency inflow essential for meeting our obligations.”

Since 2020, South Sudan has received three rapid credit facilities from the IMF. These measures led to the initiation of a program monitoring with board involvement last year.

The first two reviews of this program were completed this month, with a third scheduled for November. After this, the government will seek the full quota of approximately $250 million.

Governor Garang highlighted that meeting the IMF’s policy requirements is crucial for securing the funds.

“We have already delivered an audit of the central bank’s financial statements for 2021,” he noted. “However, there are still areas where we need to intensify our efforts. With the IMF, there is no free lunch. We’re working very hard to meet those policy requirements.”

Efforts to increase non-oil revenue have been made, but they fall short of the country’s needs. The decline in oil production has significantly affected foreign exchange reserves, which can now only cover about two months of imports, compared to the IMF’s threshold of 3.5 months.

In addition to seeking IMF assistance, South Sudan is in discussions with Qatar for a resolution following a $1 billion court award to the Qatar National Bank over a defaulted loan. “We are negotiating to pay part of it, but we’ll still need to settle this debt,” Garang stated.

The $250 million from the IMF is expected to address several critical areas, including economic growth, inflation control, and the distribution of resources across the country.

It will also support essential sectors such as education and health, providing much-needed relief as South Sudan navigates through these economic challenges.

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Oil Prices Steady Ahead of Crucial OPEC+ Meeting on Output Cuts

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Oil prices stabilized in Asian trading on Monday as markets turned their attention to an upcoming OPEC+ meeting, where producers are expected to discuss maintaining voluntary output cuts for the remainder of the year.

This critical meeting, scheduled for June 2, will be held online following a brief postponement, OPEC announced last Friday.

The Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian crude oil is priced, stood at $82.36 a barrel, while the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil rose by 28 cents to $78 per barrel.

The stabilization in prices comes after a week of declines with Brent ending last week about 2% lower and WTI losing nearly 3%.

This downturn was influenced by minutes from the Federal Reserve’s recent meeting, revealing that some officials are open to further tightening interest rates if deemed necessary to control persistent inflation.

Market activity is expected to be relatively subdued on Monday due to public holidays in the United States and the United Kingdom.

However, anticipation is building around the OPEC+ meeting, where producers will deliberate on extending the current voluntary output cuts of 2.2 million barrels per day into the second half of the year. Sources within OPEC+ suggest that an extension is likely.

Sugandha Sachdeva, founder of Delhi-based research firm SS WealthStreet, expressed confidence in the potential extension, stating, “Oil futures are expected to maintain today’s gains due to expectations of the cuts being extended.”

She also highlighted the influence of upcoming U.S. Producer Price Index (PPI) data on market movements, which will shape the Federal Reserve’s approach to potential rate adjustments.

Combined with an additional 3.66 million barrels per day of production cuts valid through the end of the year, these measures account for nearly 6% of global oil demand.

OPEC remains optimistic about continued growth in oil demand, forecasting an increase of 2.25 million barrels per day for the year, while the International Energy Agency (IEA) anticipates slower growth of 1.2 million barrels per day.

Analysts at ANZ noted that they will be closely monitoring gasoline usage as the Northern Hemisphere enters summer, a peak season for driving holidays.

They commented, “While U.S. holiday trips are expected to hit a post-COVID high, improved fuel efficiency and EVs could see oil demand remain soft,” but added that this could be offset by rising air travel.

This week’s market dynamics will also be influenced by the U.S. personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index, due to be released on May 31.

The PCE index is regarded as the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, and its findings could provide further indications of the central bank’s interest rate policies.

In a related development, Goldman Sachs has revised its forecast for 2030 oil demand upwards to 108.5 million barrels per day from the previous 106 million barrels per day.

The investment bank also projects peak oil demand to occur by 2034 at 110 million barrels per day, followed by a prolonged plateau until 2040.

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