Interest rates are likely to remain on hold in the foreseeable future, with the Reserve Bank of Australia flagging that growth remains in line with expectations, and the RBA remains unperturbed by the housing market.
“Taking into account the recent data, and having eased monetary policy at its May and August meetings, the Board judged the current stance of monetary policy was consistent with sustainable growth in the Australian economy and achieving the inflation target over time,” the Board said in its minutes.
- Growth remains in line with expectations despite further falls in business investment.
- House market conditions have “eased” since last year.
- Last meeting for governor Glenn Stevens who is being replaced by Phillip Lowe.
- RBA warns “appreciating exchange rate could complicate adjustments in economy”
- The Reserve Bank has an inflation target of between 2 to 3 percent, and the rate cuts in May and August were prompted by weak inflation figures in the March and June quarters.
Housing market conditions weaker
The RBA said indicators pointed to weaker conditions in the housing market than a year earlier. It noted that the number of auctions had declined, and in recent months the value of housing loan approvals had been broadly steady, but housing credit growth had been lower.
“Housing market conditions overall appeared to have eased since the previous year, although the dwelling construction cycle remained in a strong upswing,” the statement said.
“Housing prices had risen modestly over the past year and turnover had been below average.”
In new figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, property prices rose in the June quarter, with Sydney posting a rise after six months of falls, while prices fell in Perth and Darwin.
Australia’s central bank also warned an “appreciating exchange rate could complicate the necessary adjustments in the economy”.
The Australian dollar is currently buying around 75.5 US cents, recovering from a one-and-a-half month low of 74.4 US cents touched earlier in September.
“The RBA has not changed its view since cutting rates to 1.5 per cent in August, which implies it sees little need to cut interest rates again,” wrote Paul Dales, chief Australian economist at Capital Economics in a note to clients.
“Although the strong defence of its view that the housing market has softened implies that housing is not a barrier to further cuts.”
Markets are pricing in around a one in three chance of another rate cut before the end of the year, according to Reuters.
The September meeting is the last for outgoing governor Glenn Stevens, with Philip Lowe, the previous deputy, replacing him.
Bureau De Change Operators Begs CBN to Approve Electronic Forex Trading
BDCs Seek CBN Approval Electronic Forex Trading
Bureau de change operators (BDCs) on Wednesday begged the Central Bank of Nigeria to approve the usage of electronic foreign exchange trading to ease demand pressure and facilitate comfort.
Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, the President of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), made the appeal during a webinar organised by its member with the theme ‘The Impact and Roles of BDCs Challenges and Way Forward.’
Gwadabe urged bureau de change operators to adhere to the rules guiding forex transactions by selling at an appropriate rate stipulated by the CBN.
Gwadabe said: “Technology is a threat whether we like it or not and we have been urging the CBN to allow us operate within the payment space. Our request to the CBN and the federal government is to continue to empower us more especially in the payment space.
“The world is now in the fourth generation and it is no more in the traditional method of doing business even agriculture is digital, so we are appealing to the CBN to allow us be on the digital payment space. As this will deepen the economy, further converge the rate, further deepen liquidity and empower the BDC.”
Continuing, Gwadabe said: “Some of us want to be ungodly and trading on parallel market rate is highly unacceptable. The CBN has said it is highly unacceptable, ABCON has said it is highly unacceptable and so we are calling on all the directors of BDCs to please ensure that you don’t sell to willing customers. Any willing customer that says he wants to buy at N465 is not your customer and they would land you sanctions and get penalties.”
He added that monies found on operators carrying out illegal trades would be seized by the relevant authorities.
He said: “Any dollar you found trading on the street is going to confiscated and would become federal government’s property. Any dollar you try to courier via border movement at the airport is also government property.”
Naira to Dollar Exchange Rate in 2020
Naira to dollar exchange rate in 2020 declined by N73 from N306 Central Bank of Nigeria sold it in the beginning of the year to N379 and N386 on the investors and exporters forex window.
The Naira to dollar exchange rate in 2020 has been marred by a series of economic uncertainties and weak macro fundamentals caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the beginning of the year, the official Central Bank of Nigeria’s naira to dollar exchange rate stood at N306 to a US dollar, while on the parallel market popularly known as the black market, the local currency was exchanged between N350 to N360 per US dollar.
On the investors and exporters’ foreign exchange window instituted by the central bank to mirror a free market, the naira was exchanged at N325 to a United State dollar.
However, unclear economic direction amid a 50 percent increase in Value Added Tax from 5 percent to 7.5 percent and border closure hurt the Nigerian economic outlook and plunged investors’ confidence in the economy even before COVID-19 outbreak.
This weak sentiment metamorphosed into broader economic decline when COVID-19 broke out in the country on February 27 2020 as investors that were doubting President Buhari economic path see no reason to wait any longer or believe Nigeria has what it takes, in terms of the health system, to contain an impending health catastrophe.
The surged in demand for US dollar by those looking to move their funds out of the country compelled Governor Godwin Emefiele led central bank to adjust the Nigerian Naira foreign exchange rate from N306 to a US dollar to N360 in order to discourage capital flight while simultaneously sustain dwindling foreign reserves.
But with global oil prices plunging to as low as $15 per barrel, below Nigeria’s $17 per barrel cost of production and demand for the commodity, especially Nigeria’s crude oil at almost zero during the peak of COVID-19, foreign investors were willing to lose N54 per US dollar to exit the Nigerian market.
According to a JPMorgan report, central bank forex backlog was over $5 billion, yet foreign reserves continues to drop. Left with little to no choice, the federal government approached the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for $3.4 billion financial assistance while the apex bank devalued the Naira again to the currency $379 to a US dollar and N386 on the investors and exporters window.
Despite the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the Nigerian people and the broad-based decline in economic activities that saw the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracting by 6.10 percent in the second quarter of the year and the unemployment rising as high as 27.1 percent or 21.8 million people in an import-dependent economy, the apex bank did not just devalue the Naira twice, the Federal Government raised electricity tariffs and remove subsidy in an economy with very weak consumer spending.
With the series of economic uncertainties, investors in forex forward market in London started offering Naira future contracts for N545, saying the apex bank no longer have the resource to support the Naira given the current global situation.
True to their words, Naira to Dollar exchange rate in 2020 plunged to N480 on the black market amid persistent forex scarcity before recently moderating to N467 when the central bank resumed forex sales to the bureau de change operators across the country.
Also, with the economy expected to plunge into an economic recession for the second time in four years in the third quarter of 2020, the Naira to Dollar exchange rate is expected to suffer even further in 2020.
Naira Drops N2 on Black Market Even With 11.5% Interest Rate
Naira Declines on Black Market Despite Lower Interest Rate
Nigerian Naira traded at N467 to a US dollar on the back market on Wednesday despite the Central Bank of Nigeria’s led monetary policy committee lowering the interest rate by 100 basis points after months of saying NO.
The local currency declined by N2 from N465 it exchanged on Tuesday to N467 on Wednesday as investors doubt the new interest rate would be effective given the size of the nation’s economic woes.
Also, the central bank rate adjustment was seen by most as recession validation. Experts and even the apex bank had predicted that except the nation recorded strong growth in the third quarter, Nigeria would slide into recession for the second time in four years.
This was after Nigerian currency was devalued twice to accommodate the nation’s weak foreign reserves in the wake of low oil prices and the drop in demand for the commodity.
Since then, the central bank has injected a total sum of N3.5 trillion into the economy to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on the nation and support gradual improvement in productivity.
However, the decision of the Federal Government to raise electricity tariffs and remove petrol subsidy at a time when 27.1 percent of the working population or 21.8 million people are out of jobs with COVID-19 eroding consumer buying power, further weighed on sentiment and send the wrong message to potential investors and businesses.
Against, the British pounds the Nigerian Naira traded at N600 while it was exchanged at N545 to a European Union common currency.
With labour declaring a nationwide industrial action starting from Monday September 28, Nigeria’s detoriating economic outlook may further plunge the Naira value against global counterparts.
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