The U.S dollar Index remained marginally firm against other major currencies such as the Swedish Krona, Euro, Swiss Franc, and British pound.
Against a bouquet of major currencies, the American dollar index showed more grounds as it moved higher to trade at 97.744, before staying flat above strong support levels of 97.25
U.S dollar index price swing remained modest, as currency traders felt resurgence fears of COVID-19 was overblown out of proportion.
Importance of tracking the U.S dollar Index; Individuals, businesses hoping to meet a foreign exchange payment obligation, transactions via the dollar to countries like Europe, Japan, would have the need to pay less U.S dollars to fulfill such payments.
But with the World Health Organization stating a record increase in global cases yesterday especially in western countries and most part Africa, currency traders’ optimism became cold.
“We expect the FX markets to remain caught between recovering economic indicators and concerns about a second-wave of COVID-19 infections in the week ahead,” analysts at Barclays said in a note to Reuters.
Some currency traders expect sentiments to be risk-averse in this coming week.
“It won’t take much for the market to see this as a liquidity headwind…and when we mix in rising concerns around a renewed COVID crisis then it may keep risk on the back foot this week,” Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone, told CNBC.
U.S dollar remains neutral as strong economic macros weaken its demand
The U.S. Dollar Index was slightly down at 0.02% to 97.040 at 1.30 pm Nigerian time.
U.S dollar pulled back sessions high on Friday as Economic data released earlier showed the second-largest economy service sector printing impressive results, with the (Chinese) Caixin Services Purchasing Managers Index coming in at 58.4 in June, the highest reading in two months.
The U.S. Dollar Index that monitors the American dollar against a group of other major currencies was slightly down at 0.02% to 97.040 at 1.30 pm Nigerian time.
Consequently about 24 hours ago the world largest economy recorded an addition of 4.8 million jobs in June and manufacturing activity printing a better economic result than expected, this further suggests that the economic stimulus by the U.S Fed Reserve seems to be working.
In addition, Currency analysts at ING, in a research note spoke about the U.S Federal Reserve stimulus package in relation to the strength of the dollar.
“Fed money printing has now secured what seems to be a stable negative correlation between risk assets and the dollar,”
“As long as the Fed is still buying assets and prepared to do more, we expect this negative correlation, Risk On, Dollar Off, to dominate financial markets over the coming quarters. Economies slowly getting back on their feet should mean a backdrop of a benign dollar bear trend in the second half of the year.”
Why this matters; The U.S. Dollar Index that tracks the American dollar against a basket of other major currencies (like the Japanese yen, British pound sterling, Swedish Krona, Euro), Individuals hoping to meet foreign exchange payment obligations, via dollar transactions to countries like Europe, and Japan, would need to pay more dollars in fulfilling such transactions
CBN adjust naira from N360 to N380 at SMIS
Reports reaching Nairametrics indicates the CBN has instructed bidders at its Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) to increase their bidding price to N380/$1 floor. The SMIS is the market where importers bid for forex using Letters of Credit and Form M.
According to our sources, the central bank informed banks that they will only accept bids from N380/$1 and above and no longer N360/$1 meaning those who bid lower will not get any forex allocation. Transaction success in this market is based on bids with those who bid higher than the floor as they are often in an advantageous position to secure forex.
This is essentially a huge attempt at unifying the naira and another adjustment of the exchange rate by the CBN. Recall the CBN Governor had informed investors that the bank will be unifying the exchange rate towards what is being traded at the NAFEX market where investors and exporters trade forex.
Nairametrics understands a circular has been sent to banks but we are yet to see it.
The SMIS window was created by CBN for importers to ease the pressure faced by businesses in the foreign exchange market through sales of foreign currency to authorized dealers (wholesale) or to end users through Authorized dealers. Businesses usually conduct their bid for forex at the SMIS window every two fortnight.
Currently, rates are set at a floor of N360/$1 and a ceiling of N385/$1. Thus bidders are expected to bid within that range. The higher the bid the better your chances at getting forex. It is unclear if there were any buyers that bid above N360 as we gather most of the importers were not informed of the changes in prices until today.
In February, the CBN has injected $218.41 million into the inter-bank retail Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS). The dollar sold at the time meant for only agricultural and raw materials sectors, is in continuation of its intervention in the inter-bank foreign exchange market. In May, the central bank surprised the market by injecting estimated $90-$100million to the system.
Naira gains against the dollar across forex markets as liquidity hits record increase
At the black market, the naira appreciated marginally by N1 to a dollar to close at N461 to a dollar.
Forex turnover at the Investor and Exporters (I&E) window had a rebound on Thursday, July 2, 2020, as it rose by 1876% day on day, a massive increase from what was recorded the previous day at the foreign exchange market. This is according to data from the FMDQOTC, an exchange where forex is traded by foreign investors and exporters.
According to the data tracked by Nairametrics, forex turnover increased from $10.37 million on Wednesday, July 1, 2020, to as high as $204.90 million on Thursday, July 2, 2020, representing a massive 1876% increase on a day-to-day basis. This also represents a major departure from the low forex supply since January 2020, the last time the market hit a $200 million turnover mark.
Despite the volatility at the NAFEX market, the spike in volume of sales provided a trading boost reducing the demand pressure experienced in recent days.
In related news, the exchange rate at the I&E appreciated on Thursday, closing at N386 to a dollar, compared to the N386.50 that was recorded on Wednesday, July 1, representing a 50 kobo gain. The opening indicative rate was N386.86 to a dollar on Thursday. This represents a 22 kobo gain when compared to the N387.08 opening rate recorded on Wednesday.
At the black market where forex is traded unofficially, the naira appreciated marginally by N1 to a dollar to close at N461 to a dollar on Thursday, as against the N462 to a dollar on Wednesday. The exchange rate at the beginning of the week was N460 to a dollar. By crossing N460, the exchange rate has broken a psychological ceiling going past N460 for the first time since 2017.
Nigeria continues to maintain multiple exchange rates comprising the CBN official rate, the BDC rates, and the NAFEX (I&E window). Nairametrics reported last week that the government is mulling unifying the multiple exchange rates in a bid to increase the amount available for state governments to share.
The forex scarcity and drop in revenue put pressure on the value of the naira despite CBN’s effort to maintain stability across the forex segments. The CBN is expected to continue with its intervention in the foreign exchange market to ensure market stability.
According to a July 2020 report from Moody’s, the foreign currency funding gap for Nigerian banks is expected to rise to $5 billion due to the current low oil prices, volatile forex inflows and lower diaspora remittances amid the coronavirus pandemic. These challenges are threatening to renew the foreign currency liquidity pressures that hit Nigerian banks during the previous oil crisis in 2016-2017.
The report also indicated that dollar shortages are expected to persist over the next 12-18 months if low oil prices continue thereby renewing the forex liquidity crisis that led to severe rationing of dollar and ban on importation of some items during the last oil price crash in 2015-2017.
Forex Liquidity Issues
Despite the improved turnover recorded on Thursday, the volatility and uncertainty of the forex market still persist due to accumulated demand and liquidity shortages across markets. The rise in demand and contrasting drop in supply has called for another round of devaluation, which the CBN has insisted it has plans to implement. A devaluation last occurred in March. The activities of the speculators seem to have continued unabated.
Speculators have thus patronized the parallel market, widening the gap between it and the I&E window. The CBN maintains that the perceived demand cannot be substantiated as the lockdown induced by the COVID-19 pandemic suggest demand should be low due to travel restrictions and drop-in economic activities.
The further decline in liquidity could further fuel speculations in the black market where the exchange rate has traded at a premium of N60+ over the last few weeks. The CBN claims most of the demand being cited is not represented by any official documentation and that it has informed foreign investors with genuine forex demand to be “patient” and that they will get their forex.