The latest data from the Central Bank of Nigeria reveals Nigeria’s 364-day treasury bills have fallen to 5.2%. This is the lowest we have seen in almost a decade indicative of the major disconnect in financial markets.
182-day bills went for stop rates of 4.9% and 91-day rates 3.5% per annum respectively. The total amount on offer for 364-day bills was N44.8 billion with investors staking about N105.9 billion. Bids for 182 and 91-day also outstripped offers by a combined N35 billion.
Why this matters: The massive disparity between the subscriptions and the offers suggests investors are willing to earn a negative real return (treasury bills rate less inflation rate) than take higher risk in other assets such as stocks and real estates.
The increase in demand for treasury bills compared to supply is largely due to a dearth in investable funds available to investors. Back in October, the Central Bank restricted investments in its lucrative OMO bills to commercial banks and foreign investors leaving hundreds of billions of naira in cash in the dust.
Before now, the OMO market was seen by investors such as Pension Funds, Insurance Companies, FinTEchs, etc. as a viable option for investing free cash flow. The restriction now leaves them with very little options. Most investors surveyed by Nairametrics complain that they will rather continue to invest in safe havens like the CBN’s treasury bills rather than investing in stocks despite their perceived low valuations.
Retail investors have also shown interest in buying dollars preferring to earn as low as 4% in the greenback as against holding the naira at 6%. However, if yields continue to be this low most investors could fall prey to Ponzi schemes which typically thrive in low yield environments.
Reliable sources also inform Nairametrics that the CBN is keeping a close watch on investor reactions to the low yield environment and considers this a temporary situation. Rates may pick up if the pressure triggers a spike in the demand for dollars.