- RBA Leaves Rate Unchanged at 1.5%
The Reserve Bank of Australia left cash rate unchanged at 1.50 percent on Tuesday.
The global economic expansion is continuing. A number of advanced economies are growing at an above-trend rate and unemployment rates are low. Growth in China has slowed a little, with the authorities easing policy while continuing to pay close attention to the risks in the financial sector. Globally, inflation remains low, although it has increased in some economies and further increases are expected given the tight labour markets. One ongoing uncertainty regarding the global outlook stems from the direction of international trade policy in the United States.
Financial conditions remain expansionary, although they are gradually becoming less so in some countries. There has been a broad-based appreciation of the US dollar this year. In Australia, money-market interest rates are higher than they were at the start of the year, although they have declined somewhat since the end of June. These higher money-market rates have not fed through into higher interest rates on retail deposits. Some lenders have increased mortgage rates by small amounts, although the average mortgage rate paid is lower than a year ago.
The Bank’s central forecast is for growth of the Australian economy to average a bit above 3 per cent in 2018 and 2019. In the first half of 2018, the economy is estimated to have grown at an above-trend rate. Business conditions are positive and non-mining business investment is expected to increase. Higher levels of public infrastructure investment are also supporting the economy, as is growth in resource exports. One continuing source of uncertainty is the outlook for household consumption. Household income has been growing slowly and debt levels are high. The drought has led to difficult conditions in parts of the farm sector.
Australia’s terms of trade have increased over the past couple of years due to rises in some commodity prices. While the terms of trade are expected to decline over time, they are likely to stay at a relatively high level. The Australian dollar remains within the range that it has been in over the past two years on a trade-weighted basis, but it has depreciated against the US dollar along with most other currencies.
The outlook for the labour market remains positive. The unemployment rate has fallen to 5.3 per cent, the lowest level in almost six years. The vacancy rate is high and there are reports of skills shortages in some areas. A further gradual decline in the unemployment rate is expected over the next couple of years to around 5 per cent. Wages growth remains low, although it has picked up a little recently. The improvement in the economy should see some further lift in wages growth over time, although this is likely to be a gradual process.
Inflation is around 2 per cent. The central forecast is for inflation to be higher in 2019 and 2020 than it is currently. In the interim, once-off declines in some administered prices in the September quarter are expected to result in headline inflation in 2018 being a little lower, at 1¾ per cent.
Conditions in the Sydney and Melbourne housing markets have continued to ease and nationwide measures of rent inflation remain low. Housing credit growth has declined to an annual rate of 5½ per cent. This is largely due to reduced demand by investors as the dynamics of the housing market have changed. Lending standards are also tighter than they were a few years ago, partly reflecting APRA’s earlier supervisory measures to help contain the build-up of risk in household balance sheets. There is competition for borrowers of high credit quality.
The low level of interest rates is continuing to support the Australian economy. Further progress in reducing unemployment and having inflation return to target is expected, although this progress is likely to be gradual. Taking account of the available information, the Board judged that holding the stance of monetary policy unchanged at this meeting would be consistent with sustainable growth in the economy and achieving the inflation target over time.
Naira Plunges Against British Pound to N600 on Black Market
Naira Falls by N20 Against British Pound to N600
Economic uncertainties amid low oil prices weighed on the Nigerian Naira against its global counterparts.
The Naira plunged against the British Pound by N20 from N580 it exchanged two weeks ago on the black market to N600 on Thursday and remained at the same rate on Friday morning.
The local currency has remained under pressure since Coronavirus disrupted global economics and demand for global oil earlier in the year. Nigeria, an oil-dependent economy, was one of the nations affected by the low oil prices and disruption of global supply chain and logistics.
This coupled with a series of local challenges like the rising cost of servicing debt to revenue, weak manufacturing sector that depends on importation for most of its raw materials, unclear economic direction that deterred foreign investors and eventually weighed on the nation’s foreign direct investment and capital importation hurt the nation’s economic outlook and investment sentiment.
Against the Euro common currency, the Naira declined by N35 to N545 on Thursday, down from N510 it traded about three weeks ago.
This decline continues against the United States dollar as the local currency traded at N474 to a US dollar, down from N465 it was exchanged three weeks ago.
The inability of the Central Bank of Nigeria to support the local currency through sufficient dollar liquidity continues to impact the manufacturing sector and other key sectors that depend on importation for operations.
Also, the scarcity dictates the Naira exchange rate to its counterparts, especially after a recent report showed foreign investors are looking to access the US dollar to repatriate their funds.
Other factors, like the recent Shoprite announcement that it was pulling out of Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, due to falling revenue and challenging business environment compounded the nation’s woes.
Naira Declines Slightly on the Black Market to N474/$
Naira Drops Marginally on the Black Market to N474 Against US Dollar
Nigerian Naira declined marginally on Tuesday on the parallel market, popularly known as the black market.
The local currency declined by N1 to N474 per US dollar, down from the N473 it traded on Monday.
This was coming after Shoprite announced it would be exiting Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy. The announcement further damped the nation’s economic outlook amid the already heighten economic uncertainties.
Nigeria continues to struggle with low dollar availability after low oil prices and weak global demand for the commodity eroded the nation’s foreign revenue generation.
On the Investors and Exporters Forex window, the Naira remained pressured at N389 to a US dollar, better than the N389.25 it exchanged on Monday but more than the N381 stipulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Total turnover traded by investors rose from $18.83 million traded on Monday to $24.66 million on Tuesday.
Experts have said the series of bad news emanating from the country will continue to deter potential investors and hurt capital importation necessary to boost dollar liquidity.
Forex Scarcity Weighs on Manufacturing Sector
Manufacturing Sector Suffers from Lack of Dollar Liquidity
The Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf, has said lack of dollar availability continues to weigh on the manufacturing sector in the first half of the year as the sector recorded its third consecutive month of contraction in the month of July.
According to Yusuf, several manufacturers had to source for forex on the black market, increasing scarcity on the already stressed section of the forex even more. This, other experts have blamed for the high Dollar-Naira exchange rate on the black market.
On Monday, the Naira was exchanged at N473 to a US dollar on the parallel market popularly known as the black market. The local currency gained N2 from the N475 it was exchanged before the Sallah holiday to N473 on Monday when the market opened.
“Across, practically, all sectors, we are experiencing cost escalation, loss of credit lines enjoyed from foreign creditors, forex remittance challenges and many more. We need an urgent response from the CBN to calm the situation and restore confidence in our foreign exchange management framework,” Yusuf stated.
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry said most of its 2,000 members have been hit by the dollar shortage and wide foreign exchange rate that is presently eroding their profits.
“If the situation persists, it will lead to lay-offs. If you are not producing, there will be a shortage of goods in the market, prices will go up,” he added
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