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Banks Deploy N1.2trn to Govt Securities as Pressure on Exchange Rate Resumes

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Money market activities closed, weekend, with a record N1.2 trillion over subscription to the Nigerian Treasury Bills, NTB, indicating that financial institutions are cashing-in heavily on the recent jerk-up of the Monetary Policy Rates, MPR, by the Monetary Policy Committee, MPC, of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

The MPR at 14 per cent would give higher returns on investments in fixed income and government securities, with a near zero risk compared to other financial market investments and lendings to other sectors of the economy. The subscription rates for the instruments, last week, ranged from 17–18 per cent.

The investments in NTB were also coming at the backdrop of N256 billion mopped up by the apex bank in its open market operation, OMO, a development which treasury dealers said indicated that CBN’s policy was pro-government securities.

They also said the policy helped reduce demand pressure on foreign exchange market while safeguarding both the exchange rate and the external reserves.

But developments in the inter-bank foreign exchange market, last weekend, indicated a renewed pressure on the exchange rate as demands appeared to be heavily outstripping supply, a situation which forced the apex bank to intervene with supplies twice last week.

Despite the intervention, naira depreciated significantly in the inter-bank spot market, closing at N332.1/USD1.0, weekend, down from N318.9/USD1.0 previous weekend.

Also, the huge cash flow to the government securities, according to the analysts, has led to starving of funds to other sectors of the economy, especially the manufacturing sector as banks now prefer trading in fixed income money market instruments where yields have risen recently with little or no risk.

Senior Analyst at CardinalStone Partners, a Lagos-based investment house, Tiffany Odugwe, said: “Given the currently high interest rate environment following the MPC’s decision to hike the MPR to attract foreign investments, yields may rise throughout August.

“However, at currently attractive levels, healthy demand for these securities may drive yields down but not to significantly lower levels. Also, given the need to manage foreign exchange rate, we do not see the CBN relaxing its tight grip on system liquidity soon, which implies that fixed income yields will likely remain high.”

Also, analysts point to the adverse side effect of this development on the equities market as cash are being redeployed from stock market to money market instruments.

According to Odugwe, “if yields continue to inch upward or even remain at current levels, there will be a crowd out effect on the equities market. Investors will gravitate towards the relatively safer returns that fixed income securities offer and that will mean a continued dismal performance for the equities market.”

Analysts at WSTC Financial Services Limited, another Lagos-based investment house, stated: “We expect attractive yields in the fixed income market to shift investors’ focus from equities.”

Yet some of them also see a steady rise in lending rates as another downside effect of the diversion of funds to government securities.

In their reactions to this money market development analysts at Greenwich Trust Limited, another Lagos-based financial institution, said: “We expect an uptick in lending rates to the real sector from deposit money banks as the MPC has completely reversed course after monetary easing in November 2015, when the MPR was cut from 13.0 per cent to 11.0 per cent failed to generate the credit growth the CBN anticipated.”

Prime lending rates across banks have since gone beyond 20 per cent with other lending rates trending above 30 per cent in the past two weeks.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade long experience in the global financial market.

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Investment

Barclays Tell High Net Worth Investors to Shun Africa and Other Emerging Economies

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Barclays to High Net Worth Clients, Stay Off Africa and Other Emerging Economies

Barclays, one of the world’s largest investment banks, has started advising high net worth clients to stay off Africa and other emerging economies.

According to Barclays, despite the recent recovery noticed in emerging-market stocks, investors are better off avoiding the risks that still abound in emerging nations. Barclays Plc, however, advised high net worth clients to focus on U.S equities despite the S&P’s breakneck rally.

The investment bank said emerging economies do not have enough fiscal buffers to spend their way out of the COVID-19 pandemic and will likely continue to struggle in the near-time compared to the US with 12 percent of gross domestic product fiscal-support.

It said the huge US stimulus may halt rebound in emerging-markets stocks as more money is expected to flow into the world’s largest economy and its European counterparts.

“Compared to the U.S., emerging-market economies appear more vulnerable,” said Haider, the London-based managing director and head of global growth markets. “Their central banks have less room to maneuver, their governments may not be able to provide unlimited support and equity markets, given their sector mix, can be more challenged by an economic slowdown.”

Barclays added that even after 33 percent rebound in stocks of emerging markets since the panic selloff subsided in March, stocks are still down by 9 percent from year-to-date while the US S&P 500 stocks are up by 45 percent. Presently, their stocks trading at a 36 percent discount to US stocks, up from 25 percent three months ago.

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Economy

Crude Oil Rises to $43.1 Per Barrel on Production Cuts Extension

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  • Crude Oil Hits $43.1 Per Barrel Following OPEC’s Production Cuts Extension

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil price is measured, rose by 1.25 percent on Monday during the Asian trading session following OPEC and allies’ agreement to extend crude oil cuts to the end of July.

OPEC and allies, known as OPEC plus, agreed to extend production cuts of 9.7 million barrels per day reached in April to July on Saturday.

In the virtual conference, delegates agreed that members, including Nigeria and Iraq presently struggling to attain a 100 percent compliance level must keep to the agreement or be forced to do so in subsequent months.

Nigeria, Iraq and others failed to keep to the cartel’s agreement in May after reports show that Nigeria only managed to attain a 19 percent compliance level during the month while Iraq struggled to attain just 38 percent in the same month.

Russia and Saudi Arabia, the two largest producers of the group, warned members to stick to the agreed quota if they want to rebalance the global oil market.

While the errant producers such as Iraq and Nigeria have vowed to reach 100% conformity and compensate for prior underperformance, we still think they will likely continue to have some commitment issues over the course of the summer,” said Helima Croft, head of global commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

The potential return of Libyan output could also cause considerable challenges for the OPEC leadership.

Earlier on Monday, Brent crude oil hits $43.1 per barrel, more than a month record-high, before pulling back slightly to $42.83 per barrel.

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Economy

Gold Dips by 2 Percent on Better Than Expected Job Report

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  • Gold Dips by 2 Percent on Better Than Expected Job Report

Gold prices declined by 2 percent on Friday following a better than expected US non-farm payroll report.

The report showed an increase of 2.5 million payroll numbers against a decline of 7.5 million predicted by many experts.

The surprise number boosted investors’ confidence in US recovery as many dumped their haven investment (gold) for the stock market.

“We had significantly stronger-than-expected U.S. payroll numbers – an increase of 2.5 million versus an expectation of a decline of 7.5 million – that 10-million swing has brought forward expectations of the economic recovery in the United States,” said Bart Melek, head of commodity strategies at TD Securities.

Spot gold immediately declined by 1.9 percent per ounce to $1,678.81 while the U.S. gold futures slid 2.6 percent to settle at $1,683.

Gold was also being pressured by stronger yields and a slightly firmer dollar, “meaning the opportunity cost to hold gold in the portfolio has gone up,” Melek added.

The surprise didn’t stop there, US Dow Jones was up 614 points despite the protest going on the US and US-China tension.

Also, NASDAQ rose by 29 points while the S&P index added 50 points increase.

Note: Investors generally increase their investments in gold and other haven assets during a crisis to avert risk exposure and do the opposite once they sense a better economy.

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