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FCMB Woos Small Businesses With Free Banking Services

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  • FCMB Woos Small Businesses With Free Banking Services

Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) may be in line for a treat, as First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited has introduced free banking transactions for a period of three months for new customers operating in the segment.

This offering, which started since February 1, 2017, is aimed at encouraging Nigerians to take active interest in entrepreneurship, while also assisting new and existing SMEs to overcome some of the challenges they usually face, especially at the take-off stage.

The bank explained that to qualify for the free three months banking incentive, an SME is required to open an FCMB Business Account and sign-up for a business debit card at any of its over 200 branches spread across the country.

The benefits of this value-added offering includes, no banking charges on local transactions, free account maintenance and monthly flat charges, free cheque books, free printing of account statements and free bank drafts.

The Head, Retail Banking of FCMB, Olu Akanmu, said three months free banking from FCMB to SMEs is another demonstration of the Bank’s value as a helpful financial institution committed to helping businesses to thrive in this challenging times.

“FCMB is committed to helping Nigerians and their businesses to succeed even in this challenging times. We support them with simple, easy to use transactional products and services that help them to manage their cash and collections efficiently while supporting them in their aspirations to build successful businesses,” he said

While assuring that the Bank will continue to develop solutions to support its customers, he urged SMEs to effectively position their operations by taking advantage of the unique opportunities in the FCMB free three months banking as a springboard to take their businesses to the next level.

With statistics showing that about 20 million SMEs are registered in Nigeria, FCMB has continued to offer products, services and other incentives to stimulate and deepen such businesses in a sustainable manner.

The lender is one of the top participating banks appointed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to drive the N220billion Development Fund instituted by the apex regulatory institution to provide loans to SMEs.

In the last one and half years, FCMB disbursed over N3billion to SMEs as against N122million it provided as funding support as at the end of February 2015.

Beyond the funding, FCMB has championed and executed various initiatives, including capacity building programs that have fast-tracked the growth of SMEs in Nigeria. Ap

Beside training sessions organised for owners of SMEs, the Bank has brought its professional expertise closer to the people by having dedicated Loan Officers at some of its branches nationwide.

These officers are trained and equipped to provide SMEs with the best and most effective advice and support. FCMB has established an empowerment programme, called Cluster Marketing, for operators of SMEs. The initiative is designed to enhance their financial, marketing and management skills.

Similarly, FCMB has been aggressively supporting women managed businesses in line with the MSME fund scheme by collaborating with women involved in SMEs through funding, sponsorship and advisory services.

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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Gold

Gold Steadies After Initial Gains on Reports of Israel’s Strikes in Iran

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Gold, often viewed as a haven during times of geopolitical uncertainty, exhibited a characteristic surge in response to reports of Israel’s alleged strikes in Iran, only to stabilize later as tensions simmered.

The yellow metal’s initial rally came on the heels of escalating tensions in the Middle East, with concerns mounting over a potential wider conflict.

Spot gold soared as much as 1.6% in early trading as news circulated regarding Israel’s purported strikes on targets in Iran.

This surge, reaching a high of $2,400 a ton, reflected the nervousness pervading global markets amidst the saber-rattling between the two nations.

However, as the day progressed, media reports from both countries appeared to downplay the impact and severity of the alleged strikes, contributing to a moderation in gold’s gains.

Analysts noted that while the initial spike was fueled by fears of heightened conflict, subsequent assessments suggesting a less severe outcome helped calm investor nerves, leading to a stabilization in gold prices.

Traders had been bracing for a potential Israeli response following Iran’s missile and drone attack over the weekend, raising concerns about a retaliatory spiral between the two adversaries.

Reports of an explosion in Iran’s central city of Isfahan further added to the atmosphere of uncertainty, prompting flight suspensions and exacerbating market jitters.

In addition to geopolitical tensions, gold’s rally in recent months has been underpinned by other factors, including expectations of US interest rate cuts, sustained central bank buying, and robust consumer demand, particularly in China.

Despite the initial surge followed by stabilization, gold remains sensitive to developments in the Middle East and broader geopolitical dynamics.

Investors continue to monitor the situation closely for any signs of escalation or de-escalation, recognizing gold’s role as a traditional safe haven in times of uncertainty.

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Commodities

Global Cocoa Prices Surge to Record Levels, Processing Remains Steady

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Cocoa futures in New York have reached a historic pinnacle with the most-active contract hitting an all-time high of $11,578 a metric ton in early trading on Friday.

This surge comes amidst a backdrop of challenges in the cocoa industry, including supply chain disruptions, adverse weather conditions, and rising production costs.

Despite these hurdles, the pace of processing in chocolate factories has remained constant, providing a glimmer of hope for chocolate lovers worldwide.

Data released after market close on Thursday revealed that cocoa processing, known as “grinds,” was up in North America during the first quarter, appreciating by 4% compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, processing in Europe only saw a modest decline of about 2%, and Asia experienced a slight decrease.

These processing figures are particularly noteworthy given the current landscape of cocoa prices. Since the beginning of 2024, cocoa futures have more than doubled, reflecting the immense pressure on the cocoa market.

Yet, despite these soaring prices, chocolate manufacturers have managed to maintain their production levels, indicating resilience in the face of adversity.

The surge in cocoa prices can be attributed to a variety of factors, including supply shortages caused by adverse weather conditions in key cocoa-producing regions such as West Africa.

Also, rising demand for chocolate products, particularly premium and artisanal varieties, has contributed to the upward pressure on prices.

While the spike in cocoa prices presents challenges for chocolate manufacturers and consumers alike, industry experts remain cautiously optimistic about the resilience of the cocoa market.

Despite the record-breaking prices, the steady pace of cocoa processing suggests that chocolate lovers can still expect to indulge in their favorite treats, albeit at a higher cost.

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Crude Oil

Dangote Refinery Leverages Cheaper US Oil Imports to Boost Production

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The Dangote Petroleum Refinery is capitalizing on the availability of cheaper oil imports from the United States.

Recent reports indicate that the refinery with a capacity of 650,000 barrels per day has begun leveraging US-grade oil to power its operations in Nigeria.

According to insights from industry analysts, the refinery has commenced shipping various products, including jet fuel, gasoil, and naphtha, as it gradually ramps up its production capacity.

The utilization of US oil imports, particularly the WTI Midland grade, has provided Dangote Refinery with a cost-effective solution for its feedstock requirements.

Experts anticipate that the refinery’s gasoline-focused units, expected to come online in the summer months will further bolster its influence in the Atlantic Basin gasoline markets.

Alan Gelder, Vice President of Refining, Chemicals, and Oil Markets at Wood Mackenzie, noted that Dangote’s entry into the gasoline market is poised to reshape the West African gasoline supply dynamics.

Despite operating at approximately half its nameplate capacity, Dangote Refinery’s impact on regional fuel markets is already being felt. The refinery’s recent announcement of a reduction in diesel prices from N1,200/litre to N1,000/litre has generated excitement within Nigeria’s downstream oil sector.

This move is expected to positively affect various sectors of the economy and contribute to reducing the country’s high inflation rate.

Furthermore, the refinery’s utilization of US oil imports shows its commitment to exploring cost-effective solutions while striving to meet Nigeria’s domestic fuel demand. As the refinery continues to optimize its production processes, it is poised to play a pivotal role in Nigeria’s energy landscape and contribute to the country’s quest for self-sufficiency in refined petroleum products.

Moreover, the Nigerian government’s recent directive to compel oil producers to prioritize domestic refineries for crude supply aligns with Dangote Refinery’s objectives of reducing reliance on imported refined products.

With the flexibility to purchase crude using either the local currency or the US dollar, the refinery is well-positioned to capitalize on these policy reforms and further enhance its operational efficiency.

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