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RMB Predicts Easing Pressure on Naira with Decrease in FX Contracts

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The Nigerian naira is poised for a period of relative stability in the coming months as pressure from forward central bank foreign exchange (FX) contracts diminishes, according to a recent report by Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) in Lagos.

The easing pressure is expected to provide a much-needed respite for the embattled currency, which has faced significant devaluation over the past year.

Last week, the market absorbed the equivalent of $1.3 billion in forward FX contracts, a move that is anticipated to reduce the outstanding forward contracts to just $198 million between now and December.

This reduction is a positive signal for the naira, which had depreciated 9.9% last week to close at 1,486 per dollar, before recovering slightly to 1,476.1 on Monday.

“We expect the pressure on the naira to ease going into the second half of the year,” said Ademola Olayiwola, an analyst at RMB.

“We expect some stability in the foreign exchange market as the backlog of FX demand is gradually cleared and the central bank continues its interventions. The reduction in forward contracts signals a decrease in speculative attacks on the naira, which has been a significant factor in its volatility.”

Also, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has implemented several measures to stabilize the currency, including tightening monetary policy and increasing foreign reserves.

These actions, coupled with the anticipated reduction in forward contracts, are expected to help balance supply and demand dynamics in the FX market.

Olayiwola also noted that while the naira may experience short-term fluctuations, the overall outlook for the second half of the year remains cautiously optimistic.

“The key to sustaining this stability will be the government’s ability to manage external pressures and maintain investor confidence,” he added.

The Nigerian economy, heavily reliant on oil exports, has faced numerous challenges, including fluctuating oil prices and global economic uncertainties.

However, recent upticks in oil prices and efforts to diversify the economy are seen as positive developments that could support the naira’s stability.

Market participants will be closely monitoring the central bank’s policies and external economic factors in the coming months.

As the forward contract obligations diminish, there is a hopeful sentiment that the naira could find a more stable footing, reducing the need for aggressive central bank interventions and allowing for a more balanced economic environment.

In summary, the outlook for the Nigerian naira is cautiously optimistic as forward FX pressures ease, providing a potential pathway to stability.

The central bank’s continued efforts and favorable economic conditions will be crucial in determining the currency’s trajectory in the near future.

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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Naira Hits Five-Month Low Amid Dollar Demand Surge

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Nigeria’s naira extended its losing streak to a fifth consecutive day as it slipped to its weakest level since March despite the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) interventions.

The naira closed at 1,577.29 per dollar on Monday, down from Friday’s N1,563.8 per dollar on FMDQ.

This decline comes despite the CBN’s efforts to stabilize the currency by injecting $122.7 million through dollar sales into the market.

However, analysts argue that these amounts were insufficient to balance the robust domestic demand for the greenback.

“The CBN has been in the market selling $50 million from time to time, which is not enough,” commented Carlo Morelli, senior portfolio manager at Azimut Investment SA.

Morelli attributes the persistent pressure on the naira to capital outflows and a lack of investor confidence in the currency, despite the central bank’s commendable efforts in tightening monetary policy and reducing naira liquidity.

Central Bank Governor Olayemi Cardoso has aggressively raised interest rates in an attempt to curb inflation and stabilize the naira.

The benchmark borrowing rate now stands at 26.25%, following an increase of 14.75 percentage points since May 2022.

However, the currency has weakened by approximately 70% against the dollar since exchange-rate controls were eased last year.

“Restoring foreign exchange broad confidence is the last step, and the huge volatility in May delayed the return to normalcy,” Morelli added.

“Many foreign investors are still waiting for more evidence of stability before considering Nigeria investable.”

The naira’s decline makes it the second-worst performing currency tracked by Bloomberg in 2024, trailing only the Lebanese pound.

The recent depreciation has been fueled by both seasonal dollar demand and ongoing investor skepticism.

The central bank’s next policy decision, set for July 23, is expected to address these issues. Monday’s data showing annual inflation quickened to 34.2% in June suggests that another rate hike might be on the horizon.

In a bid to bolster the naira, the central bank has increased Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves to $35 billion as of July 8, the highest level since May 30, 2023.

This boost is attributed to recent loans from the World Bank and the African Export-Import Bank.

Omobola Adu, an analyst at BancTrust & Co. Investment Bank, noted that recent pressure on the naira has also stemmed from corporates and individuals preparing for foreign vacations.

“Boosting the supply of FX into the country remains crucial for the government to alleviate pressure on the naira,” Adu stated.

He suggested that a eurobond or local dollar bond sale later this year, along with increased support from multilateral institutions, could help shore up reserves.

Despite these challenges, Central Bank Governor Cardoso remains optimistic, asserting that the worst of the currency’s volatility is over.

He reiterated this sentiment on Thursday in Lagos, addressing business leaders and highlighting improvements in crude output and capital inflows as positive signs.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest crude producer, relies heavily on oil sales, which account for at least 80% of its export earnings.

The country’s combined crude oil and condensate output rose to 1.5 million barrels per day in June, the highest since February, according to the upstream petroleum regulatory commission.

“While the naira may be undervalued, for the naira to stabilize and perhaps regain ground, large portfolio and capital inflows are needed,” said Samir Gadio, head of Africa strategy at Standard Chartered Plc in London.

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Naira Plummets to Three-Month Low of N1,530 Per Dollar on Black Market

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The naira has plunged to a three-month low of N1,530 per dollar on the parallel market, also known as the black market, amid renewed pressure on demand for the greenback by end users.

This represents a 0.65 percent or N10 decline from the N1,520 rate quoted last Friday.

According to data from online sources and street traders, this is the weakest level since March 19, 2024, when the naira was quoted at N1,570 per dollar.

“The dollar’s value has risen due to increased demand from travelers and importers. Currently, we purchase dollars at N1,520 and sell them at N1,530,” a street trader stated in Lagos.

On the official Foreign Exchange (FX) market, however, the naira saw a slight gain.

It appreciated by 0.70 percent on Friday, closing at N1,509.67 per dollar compared to N1,520.24 on Thursday, according to data from the FMDQ Securities Exchange Limited.

Despite this appreciation on the official market, the parallel market continues to experience significant volatility.

The dollar supplied by willing buyers and sellers decreased by 32.64 percent, falling to $116.88 million on Friday from $173.51 million recorded on Thursday. This drop in supply further exacerbates the pressure on the naira in the parallel market.

The intraday high on Friday closed at N1,535 compared to N1,550 on Thursday, while the intraday low was quoted at N1,450 on Friday, down from N1,430 on Thursday.

Economic analysts suggest that the disparity between the official and parallel market rates indicates underlying issues in Nigeria’s foreign exchange management and economic policies.

The continuous demand for dollars by travelers and importers highlights the challenges faced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in stabilizing the naira.

As the demand for the dollar remains strong, the naira’s depreciation could have far-reaching effects on the economy, including increased inflation and higher costs of imported goods.

The CBN may need to implement additional measures to address the ongoing demand and supply

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Nigeria’s Foreign-Exchange Woes Intensify with Prolonged Naira Decline

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The Nigerian naira continues its downward spiral, making its ninth consecutive day of depreciation against the US dollar and the worst-performing currency in the first half of 2024.

The naira weakened by 0.2% to 1,510 per dollar by the close on Thursday, according to FMDQ.

This persistent decline represents the longest losing streak since July 2017, resulting in a year-to-date devaluation of 40%.

The naira’s performance stands out as the worst among global currencies tracked by Bloomberg, aside from Lebanon’s pound, which is undergoing severe economic turmoil and dollarization.

Analysts attribute the naira’s plunge to a combination of steep devaluation, insufficient dollar liquidity, and market volatility, which have hampered efforts to stabilize the currency.

“While the naira is undervalued and has seen significant adjustment, the supply of dollars needs to improve for the currency to be supported,” said Samir Gadio, head of Africa strategy at Standard Chartered Bank Plc in London. “Portfolio inflows have yet to pick up, even amid still-attractive local rates.”

Nigeria has been grappling with chronic foreign-exchange shortages and instability, largely due to reduced crude oil production and a lack of economic diversification.

The local unit has lost approximately 70% of its value against the dollar since June 2023, following policy changes introduced by President Bola Tinubu’s administration aimed at attracting foreign inflows to revive the economy.

The currency experienced heightened volatility between mid-April and May, driven by the imbalance between demand and supply for the greenback.

However, this volatility moderated in June with an improvement in dollar inflows.

Central Bank Governor Olayemi Cardoso recently expressed optimism about the future stability of the naira.

“The currency’s volatility may be a thing of the past,” Cardoso stated, highlighting efforts to promote investor confidence.

Since assuming office in September, Cardoso has increased interest rates by 750 basis points to 26.25%, cleared a foreign-exchange backlog, and negotiated multilateral dollar inflows to support the naira.

Despite these measures, the naira’s decline underscores the challenges faced by Nigeria’s economy. The currency’s depreciation has been accompanied by inflationary pressures, complicating monetary policy efforts and economic planning.

Besides the naira, other African currencies such as Egypt’s pound and Ghana’s cedi have also been among the world’s worst performers in the first half of 2024.

“Adjustment and rebalancing in 2024 after years of a heavily managed and misaligned currency regime account for the weakening of these currencies,” Gadio noted. For the naira, “what will matter going forward is whether it can stabilize on improving foreign-exchange inflows and perhaps see some appreciation.”

The ongoing decline of the naira highlights the urgent need for comprehensive economic reforms and effective foreign-exchange management to restore confidence in the currency and ensure sustainable economic growth. As Nigeria navigates these challenges, the path to stabilization remains fraught with uncertainty.

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