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CBN Directs Banks to Allocate 60% of FX Sales to Manufacturers

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Desirous of stimulating economic activities in the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) monday directed commercial banks and other authorised dealers in the foreign exchange (FX) market to ensure that they channel 60 per cent of total FX purchases from all sources (interbank inclusive) to end users strictly for the purpose of importation of raw materials, plant and machinery.

The central bank said it took the decision following its review of returns on the disbursement of FX and observed that a negligible proportion of FX sales were being channelled towards the importation of raw materials for the manufacturing sector.

The CBN gave the directive in a circular signed by its acting Director, Trade and Exchange Department, Mr. W.D. Gotring. The letter dated August 22, 2016, was posted on the central bank’s website.

It said: “Following the review of returns on the disbursement of foreign exchange to end users, it has been observed that a negligible proportion of foreign exchange sales are being channelled towards the importation of raw materials for the manufacturing sector.

“Against this background and in order to address the observed imbalance, authorised dealers are hereby directed to henceforth dedicate 60 per cent of total foreign exchange purchases from all sources (interbank inclusive) to end users strictly for the purpose of importation of raw materials, plant and machinery.

“The balance of 40 per cent should be used to meet other trade obligations, visible and invisible transactions. For the avoidance of doubt, authorised dealers are to continue to publish weekly sales of FX to end users in the national newspapers and to render statutory returns on same to the CBN promptly. Please ensure compliance accordingly, until otherwise advised.”

The President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Frank Jacobs, recently voiced concerns that the FX scarcity and rising cost of funds had sent manufacturing output plunging to below 20 per cent.

But with the directive, analysts said yesterday that manufacturers would be able to get a substantial part of their FX requirements met.

One market observer lauded the CBN for the directive, adding: “The CBN with this directive has prioritised the real sector so that industries can bring in their raw materials, machines and equipment without having to wait for the banks for weeks and months on end to smile their way.

“This means that the banks and authorised dealers will be required to seek out and prioritise their customers who need to bring in raw materials, plant and machinery for production and not the other way round.

“This is bound to have a positive impact on productivity in the manufacturing sector and hopefully will lead to a drop in the prices of goods that they produce.”

In a related development, the President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, has said most banks were yet to comply with the CBN’s directive that they sell $50,000 from diaspora remittances to bureau de change (BDC) operators on a weekly basis.

In a statement yesterday, the ABCON boss said only 10 per cent of BDCs from the Lagos market had accessed dollars from banks since the CBN gave the directive nearly three weeks ago.

The banks that have complied include First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Ecobank Nigeria Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, Unity Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc and Stanbic IBTC Bank.

Gwadabe further disclosed that BDCs in Port Harcourt, Kano, Abuja, Onitsha, Maiduguri, Benin and Enugu were yet to buy dollars from banks.

He said the BDCs had been selling dollars between N345 and N355 to dollar, far above the interbank rate, because of the shortfall in supply.

The banks, he added, are supposed to sell to the BDCs on the same day within the week, but failed to do so.

“Instead of staggering the payment, the banks should sell to the BDCs on the same week day, so that the impact will be felt in the market.

“We also want the CBN to license new International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) to deepen the market.

“Our members across the country have funded their accounts two weeks ago but the banks are not selling to them. The BDCs that met the CBN’s policy guidelines on the disbursement and were cleared by the banks have still not received a dime from the banks,” he said.

Gwadabe called on the CBN to outsource the dollar distribution role to an independent distributor since the banks have failed in their assigned role.

“I think the banks are compromising the policy and CBN’s directive on the matter. And like I said earlier, since the banks are not co-operating, I expect the CBN to take that role from them and assign it to a reputable independent distributor,” he said.

The CBN had directed authorised dealers that are agents of approved IMTOs to sell foreign currency accruing from inward money remittances to licensed BDCs.

The spot rate of the naira appreciated on the interbank FX market to N308.73 to the dollar monday, as against the N316.55 at which it closed last Friday.

The gains made by the naira on the interbank market yesterday were attributed to dollar sales by the central bank to some banks. Traders said the central bank selectively sold dollars to commercial lenders just before the market closed.

The central bank remains the major supplier of dollar in the market and has been selling the greenback almost daily to boost liquidity as the naira continues to search for an equilibrium price.

The CBN ditched its 16-month-old peg on the naira last June and introduced a flexible exchange rate regime to allow the currency to trade freely on the interbank market.

However, on the parallel market, the naira closed at N396 to the dollar yesterday, slightly stronger than the N396.55 to the dollar as of Friday last week.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s search for an end to its dollar shortage woes dimmed yesterday, when oil prices fell more than two per cent from last week’s high, following expectations of more crude shipments from Iraq and Nigeria, coupled with rising US oil rig count and increased Chinese exports.

While Iraq’s plan to increase exports of Kirkuk crude by 150,000 barrels per day this week from northern fields weighed on prices, the weekend’s announcement by the Niger Delta Avengers that it was ready for ceasefire and dialogue with the federal government also raised expectations of oversupply in the international market.

A prolonged ceasefire by the Avengers will potentially lead to the recovery of over 700,000 barrels per day that was shut in due to the attacks on oil facilities by the militant group, thus adding to the oversupply in the market.

Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, said recently that Nigeria would require an additional 900,000 barrels per day to achieve the 2016 production target.

A stronger dollar was also said to have fuelled the price drop, as the currency rose yesterday against other major currencies on increased expectations that the US Fed could raise interest rates this year.

A stronger dollar makes oil, which is priced in dollars, more expensive for buyers using other currencies, reducing demand.

With the expectations of oversupply weighing on the prices, the global benchmark, Brent crude yesterday was down $1.34, or 2.6 per cent, at $49.54 a barrel, after hitting a two-month high of $51.22 on Friday.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude’s most active contract, October, fell $1.28, or 2.5 per cent to $48.32 a barrel, after hitting a six-week high of $49.60 on Friday.

Reuters reported that China’s July diesel and gasoline exports soared 181.8 per cent and 145.2 per cent respectively, from the same month last year, putting pressure on refined product margins.

Citing data from the oil service firm, Baker Hughes, the Wall Street Journal also reported that the number of rigs drilling for oil in the US has risen for eight straight weeks.

According to the data, US oil output has fallen for more than a year after companies sharply cut spending on new drilling, but higher oil prices in recent months have prompted some companies to put new rigs to work.

US producers added 32 new rigs in shale-oil regions in August, which could add 200,000 barrels a day of new supply, according to an analyst at SEB Markets.

Oil rallied with few stops over the past two weeks, going from a bear to bull market as it reversed a loss of over 20 per cent in early August on speculation that Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will agree to a production freeze with non-OPEC members.

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 experience in the global financial markets.

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Top Five US Oil and Gas Firms Lost $307bn in Market Value Amid COVID-19 Crisis

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Market Value of US Five Largest Companies Decline by $307bn in 2020

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the oil and gas industry was faced with slumping prices. However, with a record collapse in oil demand amid the coronavirus lockdown, the COVID-19 crisis has further shaken the market, causing massive revenue and market cap drops for even the largest oil and gas companies.

According to data presented by StockApps.com, the top five oil and gas companies in the United States lost over $307bn in market capitalization year-over-year, a 45% plunge amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Market Cap Still Below March Levels

Global macroeconomic concerns such as the US-China trade war and the oil overproduction set significant price drops even before the coronavirus outbreak. A standoff between Russia and Saudi Arabia in the first months of 2020 sent prices even lower.

After global oil demand plunged in March, Saudi Arabia proposed a cut in oil production, but Russia refused to cooperate. Saudi Arabia responded by increasing production and cutting prices. Shortly Russia followed by doing the same, causing an over 60% drop in crude oil prices at the beginning of 2020. Although OPEC and Russia agreed to cut oil production levels to stabilize prices a few weeks later, the COVID-19 crisis already hit. Statistics show that oil prices dropped over 40% since the beginning of 2020 and are hovering around $40 a barrel.

Such a sharp fall in oil price triggered a growing wave of oil and gas bankruptcies in the United States and caused a substantial financial hit to the largest gas producers.

In September 2019, the combined market capitalization of the five largest oil and gas producers in the United States amounted to $674.2bn, revealed the Yahoo Finance data. After the Black Monday crash in March, this figure plunged by 45% to $373bn. The following months brought a slight recovery, with the combined market capitalization of the top five US gas producers rising to over $461bn in June.

However, the fourth quarter of the year witnessed a negative trend, with the combined value of their shares falling to $367bn at the beginning of this week, $6.2bn below March levels.

Exon Mobil`s Market Cap Halved in 2020, Almost $155bn Lost YoY

In August, Exxon Mobil Corporation, once the largest publicly traded company globally, was dropped from the Dow Jones industrial average after 92 years. As the largest oil and gas producer in the United States, the company has suffered the most significant market cap drop in 2020.

Statistics indicate the combined value of Exxon Mobil`s shares plunged by 52% year-over-year, falling from almost $300bn in September 2019 to $144bn at the beginning of this week.

Phillips 66, the fourth largest gas producer in the United States by market capitalization, witnessed the second-largest drop in 2020. Statistics show the company`s market cap dipped by 49.6% year-over-year, landing at $22.9bn this week.

The Yahoo Finance data revealed that EOG Resources lost over $21bn in market cap since September 2019, the third-largest drop among the top five US gas producers.

Conoco Phillips witnessed a 42% drop in market capitalization amid the COVID-19 crisis, with the combined value of shares plunging by almost $30bn year-over-year.

Statistics show Chevron witnessed the smallest market cap drop among the top five companies. At the beginning of this week, the combined value of shares of the second-largest US gas producer stood at $141.5bn, a 36.9% plunge year-over-year.

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Gold Hit 26.8% ROI YTD, the Highest Increase in Value Among Top Assets

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Gold Delivers 26.8% Return on Investment Year-t-Date

As the world’s earliest form of currency, gold has long been considered a reliable store of value. Unlike banknotes, stock, or other assets, the precious metal managed to preserve the investors’ wealth throughout the years, especially in times of turmoil in the financial markets.

According to data presented by AksjeBloggen, gold hit a 26.8% YTD return on investment, the highest increase in value among top assets.

Gold Return Rate 8.5% Higher than in 2019

Investors tend to focus on gold in times of market volatility, considering it to be a ‘safe haven’ in crises like the coronavirus. In 2019, the value of gold increased by 18.3%, revealed the Blackrock data. The precious metal continued the impressive performance in 2020 with a 26.8% YTD return, 8.5% more than in 2019.

Statistics show that last year, the S&P 500 index increased in value by 31% but was outperformed by Nasdaq, which grew by 35.2%. The MSCI Europe index rose by 26.1% in 2019. China A-shares followed with a 22.3% ROI.

However, the COVID-19 crisis had a massive impact on popular assets, causing a sharp fall in their values during the first half of 2020. The Blackrock data revealed the Nasdaq YTD return hit 23.9%, 11.3% below the 2019 performance. China A stocks reached 10% ROI YTD, much under the 22.3% return in 2019.

Statistics show the S&P 500 index had an 8.4% value increase in the nine months of 2020, almost four times less than in 2019. MSCI Emerging Market Index reached a 4.9% value increase in the same period, compared to 13% in 2019.

The Blackrock data show that crude oil, FTSE 100, and MSCI Europe index witnessed the most significant drop in the nine months of 2020, with their values falling by 34.6%, 22.4%, and 11.5%, respectively.

Global Demand for Investment Gold Surged by 100% YoY

Although many investors value gold as an important portfolio asset, the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic led to a surge in global demand for the precious metal.

The World Gold Council data showed the global demand for investment gold increased significantly since the beginning of the year.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, it amounted to 279.2 metric tons. By the end of March, this figure jumped by more than 93% to 539.6 metric tons. The increasing trend continued in the second quarter of the year, with global demand for investment gold hitting 582.9 metric tons, an almost 100% jump year-over-year.

Statistics indicate the global demand for gold for investment purposes hit a record-breaking 1,152 metric tons in the first half of 2020, the highest figure so far.

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Oil Prices News: Oil Gains Following Drops in US Crude Inventories

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Oil Prices Gain Following Drops in US Crude Inventories and OPEC High Compliance Level

Global oil prices extended their 2 percent gains on Thursday after data showed U.S crude oil inventories declined last week.

The price of Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is measured, gained 0.2 percent or 7 cents to $43.39 a barrel as at 12:10 pm Nigerian time. While the U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude appreciated by 8 cent or 0.2 percent to $41.12 barrels.

Oil prices extended their three days gain after the American Petroleum Institute said the U.S crude inventories declined by 5.4 million barrels in the week ended October 9.

The report released after the market closed on Wednesday revealed that distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, declined by 3.9 million barrels. Those stated drawdowns almost double analysts’ projections for the week.

Much of the fall is due to the effects of Hurricane Delta shuttering U.S. production in the Gulf of Mexico, and as such, will be a transitory effect,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Asia Pacific at OANDA.

“Therefore, I am not getting too excited that a turn of direction is upon markets, although both contracts are approaching important technical resistance regions.”

Also, the report that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, referred to as OPEC+ attained 102 percent compliance level with their oil production cuts agreements bolstered global oil outlook. Suggesting that demands for the commodity are likely not growing and could drag down prices in few weeks, especially when one factor in the reopening of Libya’s Sharara oil field, workers returning to operation in Norway and the Gulf of Mexico.

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