The Nigerian naira plunged to a record low on the parallel market as shrinking dollar supply from the central bank forced buyers to the street for hard currency.
(Bloomberg) — The Nigerian naira plunged to a record low on the parallel market as shrinking dollar supply from the central bank forced buyers to the street for hard currency.
The naira was changing hands at 970 per dollar on Wednesday, from 962 the previous day and 903 naira at the start of this month, according to Umar Salisu, a foreign-exchange operator who compiles the data in Lagos. That’s 20% weaker than the official rate of 776.60 naira per dollar as reported by FMDQ, a Lagos-based platform.
“Importers are everywhere looking for dollars to bring in goods for Christmas sales,” Salisu said. “They’re not getting it at banks.”
The naira has been losing ground since June, when the Central Bank of Nigeria allowed it to trade more freely and scrapped the old regime of multiple exchange rates. But the central bank’s inability to supply dollars to the official trading window has pushed traders back to the unauthorized market. The gap between the official and parallel exchange has steadily widened, after converging briefly just after the reforms.
The central bank’s “foreign-exchange supply is significantly low and we also saw it has remained on the sidelines since the first week of September,” said Abdulazeez Kuranga, an analyst at Cordros Capital Ltd., a Lagos-based brokerage. “The shortage of FX supply lingers while demand for the greenback continues to rise.”
Fixing the currency shortages will be a major challenge for newly appointed new central bank governor Olayemi Cardoso. The former Citibank executive was named to the post last week by President Bola Tinubu, who has charged him with implementing reforms that could erase the naira’s parallel-market premium.
Samir Gadio, head of Africa strategy at Standard Chartered Bank said investors were closely monitoring the developments. “The wider gap with the official exchange rate points to distortions in the foreign exchange market that may prevent renewed capital inflows,” he said.
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