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Currencies

Banks text customers to come and buy dollars

These follow recent pronouncement by the CBN that it is ready to provide forex for investors who wish to repatriate funds from the country

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Banks, Happy Jumping Photo by Val Vesa on Unsplash

Nigerian banks are texting their customers about the availability of forex for personal travels. A series of text messages monitored by Nairametrics show commercial banks informing their customers that they can now purchase forex.

A text from a commercial bank read’ “Dear Client, purchase USD for eligible invisibles (Tuition fees, Upkeep, Medical Payments, Travel Allowances, etc) and SME transactions at our branches.”

Another commercial bank sent the following message to its customers; “Back in Business? Getting Ready for Back to School? No Need To Worry About FX.” Most users on social media platform, Twitter, also confirm receiving these messages.

The messages follow recent pronouncement by the CBN that it is ready to provide forex for investors who wish to repatriate funds from the country despite the drop in oil prices and its effect on forex supply.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: Fitch downgrades Nigeria’s IDR to “B”, says CBN’s remedial policy not enough

The CBN also insisted that “Foreign Exchange available would be devoted to strategic importation or service obligations that are priority” as Nigerians worried about their ability to secure forex for essential items once the global lockdown eases.

How can you buy it?

Findings from Nairametrics indicate banks are willing to sell forex but currently sell to students, parents, and guardians looking to pay school fees. We understand forex is not being sold for PTA since air travel is still suspended in most countries following the global lockdowns. However, to purchase the forex, all you need to do is approach your bank with evidence of use.

READ MORE: NSE Hosts First Virtual Automated Trading System (ATS) Broker Certification Training Programme

Assurance moves

As part of its move to assure the market that forex supply will be available, the CBN agreed to a depreciation of the exchange rate at the forwards market. Last week, Nigeria’s 5 years onshore Non-Deliverable forward contract posted its biggest drop by plunging 27% from N413.36 to close at N569.69 a price differential of N156. The 1-year Non-Deliverable forward contract was down 5% from N394.29 to close at N421.22 a price differential of N26.93.

One month NDF is now N395/$1 suggesting an imminent devaluation in the I&E window which could also impact the current official exchange rate of N360/$1 as well as the BDC rate which was devalued to N370/$1 some weeks back.

The move triggered worries that the exchange rate might be devalued in line with the depreciation at the forwards market. Reports reaching Nairametrics indicate the apex bank is desperate to assure investors that it has enough forex to defend the naira for now and does not see any immediate need for a devaluation.

What changed?

Oil prices staged a rebound in the last two weeks with Nigeria’s Bonny Light crude hitting $27 as at Thursday morning. Nigeria also just recently banked the $3.4 billion IMF facility helping to boost external reserves. The data from CBN shows that the external reserves increased sharply by $1.36 billion in just 13 days, rising from $33.42 billion as of April 29, 2020, to about $34.78 billion on May 12, 2020. The Nigerian external reserve had been on a downward slide since last year, after hitting a high of $45.17 billion on June 11, 2019. It should be noted that the reserve lost over $11 billion within a space of 10 months.

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Chike Olisah is a graduate of accountancy with over 15 years working experience in the financial service sector. He has worked in research and marketing departments of three top commercial banks. Chike is a senior member of the Nairametrics Editorial Team. You may contact him via his email- [email protected]

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Chris Ndubueze

    May 17, 2020 at 6:17 am

    This site is very educative and informative it’s actually what I have been looking for.
    Thank you very much.

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Currencies

Naira gains at NAFEX window as oil prices rally back

The exchange rate between the naira and the US Dollar closed at N411/$1, at the Investors and Exporters window on Wednesday.

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Naira falls across forex markets as businesses resume after public holidays

The exchange rate between the naira and the US Dollar closed at N411/$1, at the Investors and Exporters window on Wednesday.

Naira appreciated marginally against the US Dollar on Wednesday as it closed at N411 to a dollar at the NAFEX window, representing a 0.15% gain when compared to N411.63 recorded on the previous trading day. This is as oil prices rallied back at the global market.

Meanwhile, the naira remained stable against the dollar to close at N480/$1 on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. This was the same rate that it closed on the previous trading day.

The forex turnover at the Investor and Exporters (I&E) window dropped by 44% from $59.17 million recorded on Tuesday to $33.15 million on Wednesday, March 3, 2021.

Trading at the official NAFEX window

The Naira appreciated against the US Dollar at the Investors and Exporters window on Wednesday to close at N411/$1. This represents a 63 kobo gain when compared to N411.63 recorded on the previous trading day.

  • The opening indicative rate closed at N410.66 to a dollar on Wednesday. This represents a 55 kobo drop when compared to N410.11/$1 recorded on Tuesday.
  • Also, an exchange rate of N415 to a dollar was the highest rate during intra-day trading before it closed at N411/$1. It also sold for as low as N390/$1 during intra-day trading.
  • Forex turnover at the Investor and Exporters (I&E) window dropped by 43.97% on Wednesday, March 3, 2021.
  • According to the data tracked by Nairametrics from FMDQ, forex turnover declined from $59.17 million recorded on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, to $33.15 million on Wednesday, March 3, 2021.

Cryptocurrency watch

The world’s largest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin rallied back above $50,000 on Wednesday to close above $51,000 compared to its previous closing of $48,814.26 as it recovers from one of the most severe dips in its history.

  • The cryptocurrency rose by as much as 11% as bullish momentum returned after last week’s selloff, reaching the highest level in 2 weeks.
  • The cryptocurrency has been volatile with prices plunging 21% last week before recovering with the earlier broad bounce back in global equities. On a technical basis, the GTI Global Strength Indicator, which detects trend fluctuations, has begun to curl upward, suggesting a bullish move for Bitcoin.
  • Bitcoin was trading below $44,000 earlier this week, having hit an all-time high the week before above $58,000. Its rebound suggest the third great price rally in its history may still be underway
  • Meanwhile, Ether ETH=BTSP, the coin linked to the Ethereum blockchain network, dropped by 6% to $1,612.4 on Wednesday.

Oil price decline

Brent Crude oil rose by $1.06 on Wednesday to close at $64.07 representing a 1.7% increase when compared to $63.01 recorded on the previous trading day.

  • Oil prices rose on Wednesday, following reports that the OPEC+ group could be weighing the possibility not to increase collective oil production from April as widely expected and despite a shockingly large crude build (the largest on record) as estimated on Wednesday by the EIA, oil prices were still holding strong.
  • The OPEC+ alliance is considering keeping the oil production cuts from March in place in April as well, in view of the still-fragile global demand recovery.
  • Also, a US government report showed a record drop in domestic fuel inventories from the aftermath of a deep freeze that shuttered refineries in several states.
  • WTI Crude closed at $60.91 (0.60%), OPEC Basket $61.97 (-3.53%), Bonny Light $63.11 (-0.64%), and Natural Gas $2,800 (+0.57%).

External reserve dips to lowest in two months

Nigeria’s external reserve continued its decline as it dropped by 0.12% to $34.957 billion as of March 2, 2021, compared to $34.998 billion recorded as of March 1, 2021.

  • This represents the lowest external reserve position Nigeria has recorded in over two-months when it stood at $34.98 billion as of 24, December 2020.
  • It is also worth noting that Nigeria lost over $1.2 billion in external reserves in the month of February.
  • The decline in Nigeria’s external reserve has persisted in the month of February, despite rallying oil prices in the month. This is a cause for worry, as Nigeria will hope to boost its reserve in order to meet up with its accumulated needs, hindered by the crash in oil prices earlier in 2020.

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Currencies

Why external reserves is falling despite a rise in oil prices

Increased oil prices seem not to have stopped the further slide in Nigeria’s foreign reserves.

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Emefiele’s reappointment

Nigeria’s external reserve declined from $36.3 billion as of January 29, 2021, to $34.998 billion as of March 1, 2021, losing about $1.4 billion in just a month.

The rapid drop in the country’s external reserve is occurring despite the increase of Brent crude to over $66 per barrel as of February 24, 2021, from about $51 per barrel that it closed with on January 4, 2021.

Some analysts had attributed a couple of likely reasons for this drop. This includes the CBN intervention in the forex market to stabilize the exchange rate, low foreign inflows into the country, some CBN forex policies which discourage foreign investors.

The President of the Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Aminu Gwadebe, during his chat with Nairametrics, said that the decline in Nigeria’s external reserve despite the recent increase in oil prices was due to supply shocks and shortages of foreign exchange due to drop of forex inflow from various sources.

Gwadebe said, ‘’You know we have a lot of supply shocks and shortages even before the appreciation of the crude oil prices, we just came out of recession with less than even 0.1%. We know the prices of crude oil, the demand came down throughout the Covid-19 period, even now with the new variant. So the IMTOs inflow has reduced drastically, export proceeds have reduced drastically, the I & E window has also gone down drastically. You know you can appreciate what is happening at the I & E window, their trade transactions sometimes hover up to N420/$1.’’

Read Also: CBN Governor confirms exchange rate unification plans  

On why increased oil prices have not stopped the further slide in the reserves, the ABCON President said, ‘’Completely all the sources coming have dried up, the oil prices dried up, IMTO window dried up. We are talking about a month, and these are contracts that have been closed for 3, 6 months delivery, we are just witnessing it. It will take time, it’s a very good buffer, no doubt we rely on it heavily for 90% of our foreign exchange supply. So if we have that improvement, it will give the CBN the muscle, the wherewithal to continue to support the local market. It will give CBN the muscle to make any speculation, check any hoarding.”

‘’Now that we have prospects in oil prices definitely that news, that coming in of new inflows will give the CBN the muscle to make any speculation, to checkmate hoarding, because they are in I & E window, they are in BDC window, they are in a lot of windows, so they can come up with liquidity. Definitely, it is going to. And we have seen the impact because the way it was going before this increase in crude oil prices, it was worrisome and if you look at it now it has remained stable, the highest it went is N480 for the parallel market and its always trending down. There is that stability just for that news, so you can imagine when we start receiving the liquid grill just imagine what it will become just like people have predicted and analyzed N430, N450/$1 is what we might be looking at by the end of the year,’’ he added.

On his part, a treasury and financial analyst, Odinaka Nwokonkwo, while giving reasons why it should be that way, pointed to CBN obligations. He said the apex bank paid Eurobond maturities in January or thereabout, and did FX swap with local and international counterparts which may have matured and needed to be paid down.

He said, ‘’There is a Eurobond maturity that CBN funded for, so that would also reduce the reserves, then another thing is when you look at, CBN has been intervening in the forex market. So on that space, you are seeing retail, you are seeing SME and invisibles intervention weekly. Retail is biweekly and SME and invisible about $100 million weekly. So sometimes CBN has bilateral transactions with international institutions and local banks where they take their FX and basically give them treasury bills, so that also is part of the reserves.

Read Also: Oil prices break above $65 a barrel, passing 13-month high

‘’So if some of those swaps have matured and CBN needs to pay down these bonds, they will also see a reduction. So it’s a combination of a lot of things. And also what is the volume of sales of the oil, are we really selling more, is the quantity we are selling is the same as what we are selling before. The demand might drop a little bit because some countries also have a second lockdown.’’

Nwokonkwo also believes that in the next quarter, there might see an accretion because some of those obligations may not be there.

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While pointing out that the accretion rate is slower than the debit rate, he said the oil price at $65 is not a significant increase compared to CBN FX obligations.

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These external reserve figures and swings point to two things: Nigeria seems to be overestimating the power of it oil to keep the country running and the enduring reality it needs to find other ways of earning foreign exchange.

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