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Dudley Says September Hike Possible, Markets Too Complacent

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William Dudley

The Federal Reserve could potentially raise interest rates as soon as next month, New York Fed President William Dudley said, warning investors that they are underestimating the likelihood of increases in borrowing costs.

“We’re edging closer towards the point in time where it will be appropriate, I think, to raise interest rates further,” Dudley, who serves as vice chairman of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee, said Tuesday on Fox Business Network. Asked whether the FOMC could vote to raise the benchmark rate at its next meeting Sept. 20-21, Dudley said, “I think it’s possible.”

Investors expect about one rate hike between now and the end of next year, according to federal funds futures contracts, and they marked up probabilities only slightly on Tuesday. Dudley said such estimates are “too low” and that “the market is complacent about the need for gradually snugging up short-term interest rates over the next year or so.”

“We are looking for growth in the second half of the year that will be stronger than the first half,” Dudley said. “I think the labor market is going to continue to tighten, and in that environment I think we are getting closer to the day where we are going to have to snug up interest rates a little bit.”

The FOMC left interest rates unchanged when it met last month, but said in a post-meeting statement that “near-term risks to the economic outlook have diminished.” The Fed will publish minutes of that meeting Wednesday at 2 p.m. in Washington.

Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, also speaking Tuesday, said he’s confident growth is accelerating, setting the stage for one or two rate increases this year. He said he wouldn’t rule out one coming in September.

‘Serious Discussion’

“If the meeting were today, I think the economic data stream would justify a serious discussion of a rate increase,” Lockhart, who isn’t a voting member of the FOMC this year, told reporters after a speech in Knoxville, Tennessee. “Now we have more data to come in in the next few weeks before the meeting. We’ll see what that tells us. But I would not rule out September, at least for a serious discussion.”

While U.S. stocks rose to another record high on Monday, the New York Fed chief said he didn’t see any signs of asset bubbles that are “particularly disturbing.” At the same time, the bond market “looks a little bit stretched,” in part because major central banks are “creating a search for yield globally” through their bond-buying programs, he said. That demand is spilling over to the U.S., where Treasury yields are higher than in Japan, Germany and the U.K.

“The 10-year Treasury yield, at 1.5 percent, is pretty low in an environment where we think we are making progress towards our objective, we’re pretty close to full employment, we think inflation is going to trend back to 2 percent over the next couple of years,” Dudley said.

Brexit Risks

Even so, Dudley struck a cautious tone on the pace and ultimate amount of Fed tightening. He said near-term risks from the effects on financial markets of the U.K. vote in June to leave the European Union had diminished, but added that there were uncertainties about the longer-term economic impact and whether foreign central banks would be able to support global economic growth with negative interest-rate policies.

In the U.S., “there are reasons to think that monetary policy isn’t particularly stimulative right now, and you can sort of judge that by the fact that we only grew at a 1 percent annual rate in the first half of the year,” he said. “So we probably don’t have a lot of monetary policy tightenings to actually do over time.”

A Labor Department report released Aug. 5 showed two straight months of strong job creation in June and July following a tiny increase in May that raised worries about the health of the economy. The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, which has been below the central bank’s 2 percent target for four years, has been slow to pick up.

“In my mind, the inflation outlook really hasn’t changed very much,” Dudley said. “The key question is: Are we going to get enough growth to put pressure on resources, pushing up wages and gradually pushing up inflation towards 2 percent? So far we seem to be on that trajectory.”

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.

Forex

Naira Declines to N465 Against US Dollar on Black Market

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Naira Dollar Exchange Rate

Naira Falls to N465 Against US Dollar on Black Market

Nigeria’s economic uncertainties continued to weigh on the Nigerian Naira despite the Central Bank of Nigeria’s forex sale resumption.

The local currency declined by N3 from N462 a US dollar to N465 on the black market even with over $58 million injected into the forex market through the bureau de change.

Against the British Pound, Naira depreciated by N5 from N595 to N600 on Friday while it dipped by N3 against the European common currency to N548, down from N545 it traded on Thursday.

A series of weak economic fundamentals and anti-people policy continued to hurt the nation’s economic outlook and investors’ confidence.

In a recent event, the Nigerian government simultaneously raised electricity tariffs, pump prices and foreign exchange rates in an economy that depends on imports for most of its supplies.

Also, with the unemployment rate at over 27 percent, inflation rate over 13 percent and the number of companies shutting downing operation rising on a daily bases, foreign investors and even local investors are now holding back on investments needed to support the nation’s weak foreign reserves and cushion the negative effect of COVID-19.

While the exchange rates have moderated slightly from COVID-19 peak, it remains close to COVID-19 record.

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Zenith Bank Joins Other Banks to Cap International Spend Limit at $100/Month

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Zenith Bank

Zenith Bank Caps International Spend Limit at $100 Per Month

Following persistent forex scarcity impacting the nation, Zenith Bank has joined other deposit money banks capping international spend limits.

In an e-mail to customers, the lender said “Please be informed that the monthly international spend limit for your Zenith Bank Naira Card has been reviewed to US$100 while the use of Zenith Bank Naira cards for international Automated Teller Machine cash withdrawals is still temporarily suspended.’

It added that this review is in response to change in Nigeria’s macroeconomic factors.

The bank, however, advised those with higher international spend requirements than the US$100 stipulated above to visit any Zenith branch and request a foreign currency debit or prepaid card “which are available in US Dollar, Pounds and Euro variants.”

This is coming a few weeks after UBA, GTBank, First Bank and others capped their international spend limits to $100 for similar reasons. However, Zenith’s decision was after the Central Bank of Nigeria commenced forex sale to the Bureau De Change Operators across the country.

 

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Nigeria’s Foreign Exchange Inflows Decline by 43.2% in May

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us dollar

CBN Says Foreign Exchange Inflows Decline to $5.52bn in May

The total foreign exchange inflows into Nigeria in the month of May declined by 43.2 percent, according to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s report.

The report said the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted capital inflows during the month as the total foreign exchange inflows dropped to $5.52 billion.

It said “Inflows through the CBN and autonomous sources were negatively impacted.

“On a month-on-month basis, foreign exchange flows into the economy declined to $5.52bn in May 2020.

“The decline in inflow, relative to the level in April 2020, was attributed to the lower receipts from oil sources, which fell sharply by 55.2 per cent because of the continued fragility in global crude oil demand.

“Inflow through autonomous sources, particularly invisible purchases, declined by 7.0 per cent to $3.51bn, relative to the preceding month, while there was a 66.2 per cent fall in inflow through the CBN, which stood at $2.01bn in May 2020.”

However, foreign exchange outflows from the country declined by 23.9 percent to $2.50 billion in the month. Likely because of forex scarcity and the central bank forex rate adjustments that curbed outflows by foreign investors.

A break down of the report showed that outflow through the apex bank declined by 30.9 percent to $2.19 billion, below what was recorded in April.

But outflow through autonomous sources, mainly imports and Invisibles, rose by 152.2 percent to $0.32 billion. Higher than the amount reported for the month of April.

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