- ECB Takes Opposite Direction to Fed, Rates to Remain Unchanged
The European Central Bank on Thursday said the interest rates will remain unchanged through the first half of 2020 despite the Federal Reserve sounding dovish and Australia lowering its interest rates for the first time in over three years.
The apex bank, however, said the central bank won’t shy away from taking action if necessary.
Policy makers are “determined” to act if needed amid a “prolonged persistence of uncertainties” and the “rising threat of protectionism,” Mario Draghi, ECB president stated in Vilnius after the Governing Council met.
The governing council agreed to keep rates at record lows and announced details on a program to infuse lenders with cheap loans.
“The Governing Council now expects the key ECB interest rates to remain at their present levels at least through the first half of 2020, and in any case for as long as necessary to ensure the continued sustained convergence of inflation to levels that are below, but close to, 2% over the medium term,” – ECB statement.
The U.S Federal Reserve had said the uncertainty surrounding the global economy amid trade talks may impede growth in 2019/2020. Therefore, the central bank would do what is necessary to sustain economic growth.
This comment was interpreted as possible rates cut. In fact, some market experts are already predicting two rate cuts this year, saying the economy may plunge into recession in 2020 without stimulus.
While economists have downgraded ECB outlook for growth and inflation next year to 1.4 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively. The ECB does not see reasons for lower rates considering how low they’ve gone already. Therefore, the central bank may not be raising rates in 2020.
“The ECB was more focused on the global outlook than the strong performance of the euro-area economy in the first quarter. Rising external risks have caused the Governing Council to clearly signal its dovish bias. A rate hike in 2020 is looking increasingly unlikely,” David Powell and Maeva Cousin stated.
Bureaux De Change Association Warns Against Hoarding of US Dollar, Says Speculators will Lose
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.
Forex Scarcity Plunges Naira to N620 Against British Pound
Naira Exchanges at N620 to a British Pound at Black Market
Lingering foreign exchange scarcity has plunged the Nigerian Naira to a record-low of N620 against the British Pound at the black market.
The declined by a record N14 from the N607 it exchanged to a single British Pound on Thursday to N620 on Friday, signaling rising demand for forex amid persistent scarcity.
Experts have attributed the surge in demand to the usual push for the end of the year sales by importers and businesses looking to close the sales gap created by the COVID-19 lockdown.
The local currency plunged against global counterparts by the most in recent months on Friday. The Naira declined by N13 against the European common currency to exchange at N570.
Similarly, the Naira lost another N4 against the United States dollar to exchanged at N484, further down from N480 it was sold on Thursday.
Experts are predicting further decline for the Nigerian Naira, largely due to the weak macro fundamentals, overexposure to crude oil uncertainty and US Dollar.
US Dollar Gains Against the Nigerian Naira to US$/N480
The United States Dollar continues its bullish run against the Nigerian Naira on the black market on Friday.
The American Dollar gained N5 against the Nigerian Naira to exchange at US$1 to N480 across key black markets in Nigeria.
The US Dollar has been on a bullish run since COVID-19 pandemic plunged oil prices and distrupted Nigeria’s foreign revenue generation at a time global supply chains were grounded and economies shut to curb the spread of ravaging COVID-19.
The Central Bank of Nigeria devalued the Naira twice to accommodate the nation’s new reality and ease pressure on the weak foreign reserves, still rising capital flight among foreign investors looking to exit the economy and weak foreign direct investment impedes the apex bank’s ability to service the economy with enough US dollar.
Therefore, persistent scarcity due CBN’s failure to supply enough liqudity in an economy that depends on import for almost 90 percent of its consumption plunged the Naira value in recent months.
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