21 July 2016, Lagos — THE naira yesterday suffered heavily at the parallel market depreciating by N7 against the dollar. Investigation reveals that the parallel market exchange rate rose from N268 per dollar on Tuesday to N375 per dollar at the close of business yesterday.
The sharp depreciation was triggered by increased scarcity of the nation’s currency in the interbank market. The lack of dollar supply in the interbank market was aggravated by lack of intervention dollar sales by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, causing the naira depreciate by 12 in the market in ten days.
However, the naira appreciated yesterday at the interbank spot market with the interbank exchange rate dropping to N294.23 per dollar from N294.57 on Monday. It was gathered that only one transaction worth $380,000 was transacted yesterday and it was conducted at 11.50 am more than three hours after the market opened. The interbank market had seen just $300,000 traded on Tuesday, again in one transaction.
Traders had expected the central bank to intervene to ease dollar shortages, but that did not materialise. Commercial banks had been quoting to trade the dollar as low as 295.50 Naira yesterday.
“Recent foreign exchange reforms have been enough to re-open the investment case for Nigeria, but there is still some uncertainty about the functioning of the market,” Alan Cameron, an economist at Exotix said.
“The absence of volatility at N283/US$ was interpreted as a sign that administrative controls were still in place; it remains to be seen if those will be fully removed.”
Banks had been quoting the dollar at N281 to N285. But the lack of liquidity has curbed activity, leaving the central bank as the main supplier of dollars, traders say. On Monday, currency traders introduced a maximum resale premium on dollar trades to try to boost liquidity after a transaction made without spreads sent the Naira tumbling to a record intra-day low.
Investors have welcomed the removal of currency controls but many are still steering clear until Africa’s biggest economy shows signs of a concrete recovery.
“Most investors would like to see a more liquid FX market before resuming purchases of local assets,” said Samir Gadio, head of Africa strategy at Standard Chartered Bank. “Given the significant discount of Naira-settled futures, a number of offshore financial institutions and hedge funds could be tempted to get involved in the foreseeable future.”
A total of $579.3 million has been sold in futures contracts ranging between one month and one year. A one-month contract for $26.7 million due on July 27 was sold at 279 Naira.
In non-deliverable forward markets, the one-month naira-dollar forward was quoted at 314.50. The one-year contract fell as low as 345.13 per dollar. On the black market, the Naira was quoted at 368 on Wednesday.
*Babajide Komolafe — Vanguard