By Craig Erlam, Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA, OANDA
Equity markets are off to a positive start on Wednesday as we await a slew of big economic releases and a speech from Fed Chair Jerome Powell.
It’s already been a very headline-driven week, particularly where oil is concerned, while Covid restrictions and protests in China have very much set the tone in Asia, and to a lesser extent elsewhere.
The headwinds facing China are intensifying and the protests of recent days could make it even more challenging to navigate. That said, what we’ve heard so far has been promising and potentially indicative of a plan that was already in the works.
But we shouldn’t kid ourselves. In the event that China commits 100% to its vaccine drive, especially among the elderly and vulnerable, the move away from zero Covid will take time as the virus spreads rapidly throughout the country necessitating swift action to control the spread. Even the best-case scenario is one of significant turbulence for the world’s second-largest economy next year.
Chinese PMIs highlight the challenges ahead
The PMIs highlight just how difficult the situation is in China, with the zero-Covid stance combined with the property market crackdown severely impacting domestic sentiment, while a slowing global economy weighs on external demand. With both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing PMIs falling deeper into contraction territory than anticipated, the country really has a mountain to climb in order to achieve decent, consistent growth once more.
Some rare good news on inflation
The euro is a little higher on the day against the dollar after CPI data for the currency bloc slowed to 10%, far below market expectations of around 10.4%. While still extraordinarily high, it does offer hope that inflation may have peaked and the deceleration could be faster than anticipated, in much the same way it was on the way up.
The single currency was choppy in the aftermath of the release, while markets now view the possibility of a 50 or 75 basis points hike in December as a coin flip after previously heavily favouring the latter. That could be a positive for the euro if it means less of an economic slump, with the bloc already likely heading for recession.
It was always shaping up to be a volatile week in oil markets and it’s certainly living up to that. Brent and WTI are up more than 2% on Wednesday as the EU continues to work towards an agreeable price cap on Russian crude and OPEC+ consider another large production cut this weekend.
Both carry significant uncertainty and a wide range of outcomes that should ensure oil remains volatile in the coming days, especially if both go into the weekend still up in the air. When OPEC+ can’t even commit to meeting in person, you know nothing is straightforward.
Despite rumours circulating of another possible two million barrel cut, it wouldn’t come as a surprise for OPEC+ to hold off on this occasion and wait until everything becomes clearer on the price cap and China. Nor would it be alarming for the alliance to wait a couple of extra days for details on the cap which could be more easily factored into its forecast and decision. This may be why they’ve opted for a virtual meeting as it offers more flexibility.
Rallying ahead of Powell’s appearance
Gold is benefiting from improved risk appetite as the dollar softens and US yields edge lower. It remains very much within the same range though, between $1730 support and $1,780 resistance as we await some major economic reports and, of course, the speech from Jerome Powell. Whether the Fed Chair will be so bold as to say something that could have a material impact on the yellow metal when there is some major data due over the next couple of weeks, I’m not so sure. But there’s certainly a risk he will and a break of either of these levels could be significant.
Rising for now
Bitcoin is making steady gains in the session, up more than 2% and eyeing a second positive session. It did run into resistance around $1,700 again, the upper end of its range over the last couple of weeks. While we could see a bigger correction to the upside, especially if we’re treated to some dovish commentary from Powell, I’m not convinced it would be anything more than that. The industry has been shaken by the FTX collapse and as a result, bitcoin could remain vulnerable to further plunges in the price.
Government Revenue Surges to N2.07trn in January 2024, FAAC Discloses
The Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) has revealed a significant surge in government revenue to N2.07 trillion in January 2024.
This substantial increase reflects the buoyancy of Nigeria’s economic activities despite various challenges faced by the nation.
According to FAAC’s communiqué issued after its monthly meeting in Abuja, the N2.07 trillion revenue was distributed to meet the financial needs of the federal, state, and local governments.
N1.15 trillion out of the total revenue was disbursed to the various tiers of government, indicating a robust financial inflow.
The breakdown of the revenue distribution showcased that the Federal Government received N407.267 billion, state governments obtained N379.407 billion while N278.041 billion was disbursed to local governments.
Also, N85.101 billion, equivalent to 13% of mineral revenue, was allocated to the states as derivation revenue.
FAAC also highlighted that the revenue composition included N463.1 billion from distributable statutory revenue, N391.8 billion from distributable Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue, N15.9 billion from Electronic Money Transfer Levy revenue, and N279.03 billion from exchange difference revenue.
Despite the impressive revenue figures, FAAC noted a decrease in VAT collection by N71.7 billion compared to the previous month.
This decrease suggests fluctuations in consumer spending and economic activities, which could be influenced by various factors such as policy changes, economic conditions, and consumer sentiment.
Furthermore, FAAC reported increases in revenue from Companies Income Tax, Import Duty, Petroleum Profit Tax, and Oil and Gas Royalties.
However, revenue from Value Added Tax, Export Duty, Electronic Money Transfer Levy, and CET Levies experienced declines during the period.
FAAC’s disclosure of the January 2024 revenue underscores the importance of prudent financial management and effective allocation of resources to drive sustainable economic growth and development in Nigeria.
Private Sector Credit Hits Record High of N76.94 Trillion in January 2024 – CBN Report
Private sector credit in Nigeria reached a record N76.94 trillion in January 2024, according to the latest report from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
This represents a 85.2% year-on-year increase from N41.54 trillion reported in January 2023.
The CBN’s Money and Credit Statistics report unveiled that credit to the private sector experienced a substantial month-on-month surge of 23.06%, or N14.42 trillion, from N62.52 trillion in December 2023.
This surge occurred amid the implementation of the CBN’s policy to unify the naira exchange rate.
Analysts attribute the reported N76.94 trillion credit to the private sector to the recent depreciation of the naira against foreign currencies.
The naira closed at N1,356.88 per dollar in January 2024, representing a 50.87% decline or N457.49 against the dollar compared to December 2023.
This depreciation compelled banks to extend credit to major corporations to meet the CBN’s mandated Loan-to-Deposit Ratio (LDR) threshold.
The CBN’s decision to resume the enforcement of the LDR policy, effective July 31, 2023, further propelled banks to increase lending to customers, stimulating the real sector of the economy.
With the CRR mechanism updated, banks with an LDR below the prescribed level faced a 50% lending shortfall penalty.
Experts suggest that the significant increase in private sector credit underscores the growing need for businesses to secure funds amidst economic uncertainties and exchange rate volatility.
It also signifies banks’ efforts to comply with regulatory requirements and support economic growth initiatives.
As Nigeria navigates its economic landscape, stakeholders anticipate further developments in credit dynamics and monetary policies to sustain financial stability and stimulate economic expansion.
Senate Initiates Probe into N30tn Ways and Means Loans under Buhari Administration
The Nigerian Senate has embarked on a comprehensive investigation into the disbursement and utilization of the N30 trillion Ways and Means loans obtained by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) during the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Ways and Means facility allows the CBN to provide financial support to the government to cover budget shortfalls.
The decision to probe the massive loans comes amid concerns about the transparency and accountability surrounding the utilization of these funds, particularly as the country grapples with economic challenges, food crises, rising inflation, and worsening insecurity.
The Senate’s investigation aims to shed light on how the substantial overdrafts from the CBN were acquired and expended under the leadership of former President Buhari.
There is growing apprehension that the indiscriminate spending of the overdrafts, particularly during Godwin Emefiele’s tenure as CBN governor, may have contributed significantly to the current economic predicament facing the nation.
The probe will delve into the details of the N30 trillion overdrafts, with a specific focus on examining the purpose for which the funds were allocated and how they were utilized.
Also, the Senate will scrutinize the N10 trillion disbursed under the Anchor Borrowers Scheme, as well as the utilization of $2.4 billion out of the $7 billion earmarked for forex transactions.
The initiative underscores the Senate’s commitment to ensuring transparency, fiscal responsibility, and prudent financial management in the country’s economic affairs.
It is anticipated that the probe will unearth vital insights into the financial transactions of the past administration, enabling corrective measures to be taken to address any mismanagement or discrepancies discovered.
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