Nigeria’s naira closed at 202.10 on the interbank market, weaker than Tuesday’s close of 201.10 naira to the American dollar, traders said. In the parallel market operated by Bureaux de Change agents, the naira traded at 221 to the USD.
The local unit of French oil company Total asked lenders to bid for $107 million, which it auctioned within a range of 201.90 to 204 naira to the dollar.
Three sales were carried out on Wednesday at 198 naira for a total of $23.76 million, just before the interbank market closed, data from Thomson Reuters showed, with dealers attributing trades to a central bank dollar sale.
The Central Bank of Nigeria last week scrapped its bi-weekly currency auctions and a market body said it would sell dollars only at
N198, a move that amounts to a de facto devaluation of the naira.
Dealers said the CBN was not selling dollars to fill dollar demand it described as “ineligible orders”, including payment for credit cards, leaving lenders to source for hard currency elsewhere.
After the forex auctions were scrapped, FMDQ, a group comprising Nigeria’s main lenders and the central bank, said dealers will only be able to buy dollars from the central bank if they have a prior order from a corporate customer, in order to curb speculation.