Naira Foreign Exchange Rate to US Dollar to Decline to N430 in 2020
United Capital Plc, a pan-African investment banking and financial services group, on Tuesday said the nation’s official foreign exchange rate may decline to N430 in 2020.
This was after the Central Bank of Nigeria adjusted the Naira exchange rate to a US dollar from N360 to N380 to better accommodate the changes in macroeconomic fundamentals in recent months.
In the company’s economic projection for the second half of the year, titled ‘Nigeria H2 2020 outlook report: Up in the air,’ it said “On the exchange rate, we believe the odds are in favour of a further naira adjustment, which may take the official rate to N410/$ to N430/$ by year-end.
“However, we believe the Central Bank of Nigeria will continue to defend the value of the local unit for as long as it can.”
The report stated that the nation’s growth rate slowed to 1.87 percent in the first quarter of the year, partially reflecting the impacts of COVID-19.
It explained that despite the series of stimulus pumped into the economy by the Federal Government, the second quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to contract given the vast impact of COVID-19 on businesses and households.
It added, “However, the palliatives and reforms that are being announced may reduce the probability of sliding into a deep recession or quicken recovery once the incidence rate of the pandemic begins to drop and the economy is fully re-opened.
“Overall, the Nigerian economy may enter a technical recession by Q3 2020 (after two consecutive quarters of contraction in Q2 and Q3 2020), with a chance of early recovery by Q4 2020 or Q1 2021.”
The company, therefore, lowered its 2020 real GDP growth projection from 2.3 percent to -2.69 percent.
“The biggest downside risk to the above projections remains the possibility of a second round of lockdown, especially if the virus continues to spread rapidly,” it added.
Naira Devaluation Pushed Exchange Rate to N500/US$ at Black Market
Naira to United States Dollar exchange rate plunged to N500 on Monday after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) devalued the Naira by N6 on Friday amid growing scarcity.
At the current rate, the local currency has lost N140 per US dollar when compared with N360 it was sold in the same month of 2019 and N5 compared to N495 it exchanged on Friday.
In an effort to ease pressure on the nation’s foreign reserves and unify foreign exchange rates in line with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank’s requirement for loans, the CBN devalued the official exchange rate by N6 from N379/US$ to N385/US$ and directed bureau de change operators to sell at N392/US$, up from N386/US$.
However, with importers and businesses looking to meet the usual high demand for goods in December pushing demand for the United States dollar off the roof, Naira’s value has continued to plummet despite efforts by the CBN to prop up its value.
Against the British Pound, the Naira declined to N650, down from N620 it exchanged last week. This depreciation continues against the Euro common currency as the local currency declined to N585.
Lack of liquidity due to the weak foreign reserves, low oil prices and weak demand for the commodity amid production cuts by OPEC and allies is hurting CBN’s ability to effectively intervene at the nation’s foreign exchange markets.
The apex bank usually sells forex to dealers to ease scarcity and facilitate trades. However, lack of foreign revenue generation has forced the CBN to reduce its weekly forex sales to $10,000 per bureau de change operator despite reopening of the economy pushing demand for forex further up.
Again CBN Devalues Naira by N6 Ahead of World Bank’s $1.5bn Loan Request
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has once again devalued the Nigerian Naira by N6 to the United States Dollar, making it the third time the apex bank will adjust the Naira exchange rate this year.
The devaluation brings the CBN closer to actualising foreign exchange unification demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April before the $3.4 billion loan was approved.
This same condition was enforced by the World Bank as a prerequisite for approval of $1.5 billion loan request submitted by the Federal Government. The loan the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said she was positive it would be approved by the multilateral institution in the next meeting given that the Federal Government has met all the conditions for the said loan.
24 hours later, the apex bank devalued the Naira official rate by N6 from N379/US$ to N385/US$. While the International Money Transfer Service Operators (IMTOs), all authorised dealers, bureau de change operators and service providers were asked to add N6 across all rates.
The rate for IMTOs against the US dollar has now moved from N382 to N388. Meaning banks will now sell dollar to the CBN at N389, up from the previous N383 to us dollar.
Again, the Central Bank sale of dollar to the bureau de change operators was pegged at N390 to dollar, against the old N384 to US dollar.
The apex bank, therefore, directed the BDCs to sell at not more than N392 per dollar to end-users. The old rate was N386 to a US dollar.
The CBN circlar reads in part, “Weekly Exchange Rate For Disbursement of Proceeds of International Money Transfer Service Operators’ pegged IMTOs sale of dollar to banks at N388 to dollar; banks sale of dollar to CBN at N389 to dollar and CBN sale of dollar to BDCs at N390 to dollar. The BDCs are now expected to sale to end-users at not more than N392 to dollar and each BDC is entitled to buy $10,000 weekly”.
More Problem for CBN as Naira Approaches N500/US$ at the Black Market
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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