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CBN Forex Policy Making Nigeria Unattractive—Foreign Investor

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Forex Repatriation

By Dipo Olowookere

The foreign exchange (forex) policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has again come under criticism and this time, from a foreign investor.

Recall that recently, the CBN was hit hard by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), saying the current FX policy of the banking sector regulator was making things difficult for the country rather than make them better. And for this, the CBN did not pity the group as it lambasted its leadership, casting aspersions on its credibility.

The NESG was not the first to slam the multiple exchange rates system of the local central bank as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and others have also criticised the policy.

Even a former Governor of the CBN, Mr Charles Soludo, has advised the central bank under the leadership of Mr Godwin Emefiele, to scrap the multiple exchange rates system though the CBN has explained why it is maintaining the policy despite the criticisms.

At a virtual conference recently, a portfolio manager at Emerging Markets Investment Management Ltd, known as Duet Group/UK, Mr Erik Renander, said the apex bank’s stance on forex was making Nigeria unattractive to foreign investors.

The London-based fund manager, according to Bloomberg, invested in Nigeria in 2017 by purchasing treasury bills after the devaluation of the Naira, when rates jumped to more than 20 per cent.

However, in February 2020, he sold all his holdings of bills and equities and has vowed not to re-enter the local market until the currency situation gets better.

Twice this year, the CBN has devalued the local currency; from N306 per Dollar to N360 per Dollar and again from N360/$1 to N380/$1.

The Naira has not had it good this year because of a shortfall in the crude oil earnings as a result of coronavirus disease, which crashed prices at the global market to below $20 per barrel at a point in the year. Now, the price has been hovering around $40 per barrel.

But with the way things are going, Mr Renander believes the Nigerian currency will remain under pressure and have suggested that to attract foreign investors, local investors must take control of the market, especially the equities segment.

“You could be sitting in front of a great opportunity,” he said, noting that, “Generally, when the currency devalues, the local stock market goes up a lot.

“Maybe the Naira is going to go to N550 per Dollar, and the Nigerian stock market [All-Share Index] could go to 50,000 points; you could easily have a double.”

But for him and other offshore investors, he may not consider returning to the local market because “it’s hard for me to come into Nigeria when I just don’t have an idea when I am going to get my money out again and yields aren’t high enough to compensate for that risk.

“The forex policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria is really hurting the attractiveness of Nigeria in general, both in equity and fixed income,” Mr Renander declared.

In April 2020, Business Post reported that some foreign investors who could not take their funds back in Dollars were forced to re-invest in the local market, which caused more liquidity in the system, making rates and yields to drop to single-digit lows.

At the last treasury bills sale last week, the CBN sold the three-month bill at 1.10 per cent, while the one-year instrument was cut to 3.05 per cent from 3.34 per cent.

Business Post reports that apart from the official exchange rate window known as the interbank, where the Dollar sells for N380, there is the Investors and Exporters (I&E) segment, the Bureaux De Change (BDC) window and the black market.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Economy

Wema Bank, Champion Breweries Weaken Stock Market by 0.74%

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wema-bank-logo

By Dipo Olowookere

Another loss was recorded at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Friday as a sell-off in financial, consumer goods and industrial goods equities weakened the market by 0.74 per cent.

As a result, the All-Share Index (ASI) decreased by 295.60 points to 39,799.89 points from 40,095.49 points, while the market capitalisation reduced by N154 billion to N20.824 trillion from N20.978 trillion.

Business Post reports that the insurance sector depreciated yesterday by 2.32 per cent, the banking index lost 0.48 per cent, the consumer goods space fell by 0.40 per cent, while the industrial goods counter depreciated by 0.19 per cent, with the energy sector rising by 0.25 per cent.

It was observed that the investor sentiment, which is measured by the market breadth, was negative at the last trading session of the week due to the 24 declining stocks and 17 advancing equities.

Wema Bank and Champion Breweries depreciated by 10 per cent each on Friday to settle at 63 kobo per share and N2.52 per unit respectively.

Sunu Assurances depleted by 9.59 per cent to 66 kobo per share, Africa Prudential lost 5.74 per cent to N5.75 per unit, Axa Mansard Insurance dropped 5.36 per cent to settle at N1.06 per share.

After recording losses for a few days after its share reconstruction, Lasaco Assurance gained 9.82 per cent yesterday to top the risers chart, closing at N1.23 per share.

Mutual Benefits appreciated by 8.11 per cent to 40 kobo per unit, Courtville grew by 5.00 per cent to 21 kobo per share, Oando improved by 2.99 per cent to N3.45 per unit, while NAHCO gained 2.70 per cent to settle at N2.28 per share.

Wema Bank witnessed a significant trading volume on Friday, emerging as the most traded stock after it sold 304.5 million shares worth N197.3 million.

FBN Holdings exchanged 30.8 million shares for N226.1 million, Zenith Bank traded 26.6 million stocks valued at N677.4 million, Transcorp transacted 22.9 million equities worth N20.7 million, while United Capital exchanged 17.2 million stocks for N104.6 million.

At the close of transactions, the trading volume rose by 55.58 per cent to 507.3 million from 326.0 million, while the trading value reduced by 34.22 per cent to N2.4 billion from N3.7 billion, with the number of deals declining by 2.23 per cent to 4,465 deals from 4,567 deals.

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Economy

NASD Exchange Extends Stay in Flat Domain Friday

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NASD Exchange bullish

By Adedapo Adesanya

Unlisted securities admitted on the trading platform of the NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange extended their stay in the flat territory on Friday, February 26.

On the preceding trading day, stocks on the exchange closed flat and yesterday, they remained unchanged as none of them recorded any price movement.

As a result, the total value of securities at the OTC market, which is measured by the market capitalisation, remained static at N512.24 billion, while the NASD Unlisted Security Index (NSI) ended at 713.91 points, the same level it was at the previous trading session.

However, there were movements on the activity chart as the volume of securities transacted by investors at the bourse dropped again by 15.6 per cent to 4,220 units on Friday from the 4,998 units recorded on Thursday.

Equally, the value of transactions dropped by 51.5 per cent as the market participants to traded securities worth N321,600 compared to N662,700 of the previous day.

But the number of deals executed by the traders increased by 200 per cent to six deals in contrast to the two deals carried out a day earlier.

These deals were executed on FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc (five deals) and Central Securities Clearing Systems (CSCS) Plc (one deal).

By the time the market closed for the day and week, the company with the highest number of shares traded by investors on a year-to-date basis was UBN Property Plc with the sale of 15.5 million units valued at N16.8 billion. CSCS Plc was in second place with 4.7 million units worth N73.2 million, while FrieslandCampina held the third position with 2.3 million units worth N285.1 million.

On the other hand, FrieslandCampina ended the session as the most traded stock by value (year-to-date) with 2.3 million units valued at N285.1 million. Niger Delta Exploration and Production (NDEP) Plc trailed with 604,249 units of its securities valued at N196 million, while CSCS Plc has traded 4.7 million units worth N73.2 million.

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Economy

Naira Crashes to N410.25/$1 at I&E, N482/$1 at Black Market

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Black Market

By Adedapo Adesanya

It was an unfavourable outcome for the Naira at both the Investors and Exporters (I&E) and parallel market segments of the foreign exchange market on Friday, February 26.

Yesterday, the local currency was further weakened against the United States Dollar at the two opposite market segments.

At the specialised market, the I&E, the Naira lost N1.58 or 0.39 per cent to finish at N410.25/$1 compared to N408.67/$1 of the previous day.

The depreciation came despite less pressure on the domestic currency as the turnover at the window reduced by 14.7 per cent or $6.48 million to $37.49 million from $43.97 million of the preceding session.

A looking at the performance of the local currency at the black market showed that it shed N2 or 0.42 per cent to close at N482/$1 in contrast to N480/$1 it traded on Thursday.

Also, at the same window, the local currency suffered a N2 loss against the Pound Sterling to close at N672/£1 versus the previous day’s N670/£1, while against the Euro, the Naira lost N3 to close at N583/€1 compared with the preceding day’s N580/€1.

However, at the interbank segment of the market, the domestic currency still remained flat against the US Dollar at N379/$1 and at the Bureaux De Change (BDC) window, the value of the Nigerian currency against the greenback remained at N395/$.

At the cryptocurrency market, most of the tokens tracked by Business Post on Friday closed bearish as only one finished stronger, based on data obtained from Quidax.

The Bitcoin (BTC) lost 0.3 per cent to trade at N32,100,018, Ethereum (ETH) depreciated by 3.6 per cent to sell at N1,015,000, while Litecoin (LTC) declined by 1.8 per cent to trade at N123,997.

Furthermore, the Dash (DASH) dropped 4.3 per cent to sell at N152,093.10, Ripple (XRP) fell by 2.1 per cent to trade at N300.62, while Tron (TRX) declined by 1.01 per cent to sell at N31.32.

The only coin which closed stronger was the US Dollar Tether (USDT) as its value went up by 5.7 per cent to quote at N721.88.

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Economy

Oil Dips on Stronger Dollar, Fear of Supply Increase

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oil weak dollar

By Adedapo Adesanya

Oil prices fell on Friday as gains in the U.S. Dollar and expectations that more supply will likely to come back to the market depressed the market environment.

Consequently, the Brent crude dropped 1.1 per cent or 75 cents sell at $66.13 per barrel, while the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude dipped  $2.01 or 3.2 per cent to sell at $61.52 per barrel.

A stronger greenback makes US-Dollar priced oil more expensive for those buying crude in other currencies and this saw prices drop.

Despite the decline in prices on Friday, both Brent and WTI are on track for gains of about 20 per cent this month, as markets have grappled with supply disruptions in the United States, while optimism has built for demand to improve with vaccine rollouts.

Investors are betting that next week’s meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, together called OPEC+, will result in more supply coming back to the market.

Oil prices have more than recovered to levels before the COVID-19 pandemic with global inventories trending down amid accelerating vaccine rollouts.

US crude prices on Friday faced a larger headwind due to the loss of refinery demand after several Gulf Coast facilities were shuttered during the winter storm last week.

Estimates show that this is about 4 million barrels per day of capacity still shut and it may take until March 5 for all of the shut capacity to resume though there is the risk of delays.

In other oil-related news, the OPEC+ group of producers complied at 103 per cent with the oil output cuts in January, higher than the estimated compliance in December, according to the sources with the cartel.

According to reports, in January 2021, the 10 OPEC members bound by the pact achieved 108 per cent compliance, while the non-OPEC group of producers, led by Russia, complied with the cuts by 95 per cent, up from 93 per cent in December.

The compliance figures will be reviewed by the OPEC+ panels next week, before the monthly meeting of the group’s ministers, expected to decide how the group will proceed with the supply management from April onwards

The leaders of the OPEC+ alliance, Saudi Arabia and Russia, are reportedly once again at odds over oil production policies, especially in light of the oil price rally so far this year.

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Economy

Osinbajo Opposes CBN Cryptocurrency Ban, Backs Regulation

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Osinbajo Cryptocurrency Trading

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has disagreed with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the ban on cryptocurrency trading in the country.

A few weeks ago, the apex bank directed financial institutions in the country to close all bank accounts of persons or organisations trading the digital currencies.

It was speculated that the central bank prohibited crypto trading because the youths used the means to fund the 2020 EndSARS protests across the nation.

Speaking at a one-day economic summit, the Vice President advised the CBN to take a critical look into the policy and come up with ways to regulate the system.

According to him, rather than adopt a policy that prohibits cryptocurrency operations in the country, “we must act with knowledge and not fear” and develop a robust regulatory regime that is thoughtful and knowledge-based.

“I fully appreciate the strong position of the CBN, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and some of the anti-corruption agencies on the possible abuses of cryptocurrencies and their other well-articulated concerns. But I believe that their position should be the subject of further reflection.

“There is a role for regulation here. And it is in the place of both our monetary authorities and SEC to provide a robust regulatory regime that addresses these serious concerns without killing the goose that might lay the golden eggs.

“So, it should be thoughtful and knowledge-based regulation, not prohibition. The point I am making is that some of the exciting developments we see the call for prudence and care in adopting them, but we must act with knowledge and not fear,” Mr Osinbajo said at the event organised by the CBN, the Banker’s Committee and the Vanguard Newspaper.

At the summit themed Bankers’ Initiative for Economic Growth, the Vice President emphasised the need for monetary authorities to rethink their stand on cryptocurrencies.

“There is no question that blockchain technology generally and cryptocurrencies, in particular, will in the coming years challenge traditional banking, including reserve (central) banking, in ways that we cannot yet imagine. So, we need to be prepared for that seismic shift and it may come sooner than later,” he added.

“Already, remittance systems are being challenged. Blockchain technology will provide far cheaper options for the kind of fees being paid today for cross-border transfers.

“I am sure you are all aware of the challenge that the traditional SWIFT system is facing from new systems like Ripple which is based on the blockchain distributed ledger technology with its own crypto tokens.

“There are, of course, a whole range of digital assets spawned daily from block-chain technology. Decentralized finance, using smart contracts to create financial instruments, in place of central financial intermediaries such as banks or brokerages is set to challenge traditional finance.

“The likes of Nexo finance offer instant loans using cryptocurrency as collateral. Some reserve banks are investigating issuing their own digital currencies,” Mr Osinbajo stated.

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Economy

Imasayi Cashew Plant in Ogun Resumes Operations

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Imasayi Cashew Plant

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Ogun State government has revived its cashew processing plant at Imasayi by partnering with an indigenous agro-allied processing company, J22 Concerns Limited in Kajola.

The Commissioner for Industry, Trade and Investment in the state, Mrs Kikelomo Longe, explained that this was part of efforts to boost the processing and exportation of cashew nuts.

Represented by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr Olu Ola Aikulola, who presented the letter of award to the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Mr Yinka Akintola, at the Palace of the Olu of Imasayi, Imasayi, Yewa North Local Government Area, the Commissioner said the present administration decided to operationalise the plant which has been unused since 2018 to enhance the socio-economic development of the people.

Mrs Longe called on relevant stakeholders and the people of Imasayi to support the investor in enhancing the cashew nut value chain through increased production of cashew nuts and sale for processing instead of selling them raw.

“We should team up with the investor to ensure the best use of this cashew processing plant. We want a situation whereby the cashew nuts grown in Imasayi will be processed in Imasayi.

“This will boost the cashew value chain and bring about development for the people, create job opportunities and lead to an improvement in the people’s standard of living,” she said.

The Commissioner assured that the Mr Dapo Abiodun-led administration remains committed to making Ogun State investors’ prefererred choice of destination as well as promoting policies such as the Public-Private-Partnership which would lead to the development of the agricultural value chain.

Also speaking, the Trade Promotion Advisor/ Head, Abeokuta Smart Office, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr Samson Idowu, said only 10 per cent of the 240 metric tonnes of cashew nuts grown in Nigeria is processed.

Mr Idowu said the need to diversify the economy from dependence on oil through increased cashew nut processing and exportation made the council donate the processing machine to the state in 2018 and also train the farmers on the latest techniques in cashew nut processing, adding that increased processing of the cash crop has the potential of making the gateway state an export hub.

The Chief Executive Officer of J22 Concerns Limited, Mr Yinka Akintola, said the company intends to process 500 kilograms of cashew nuts daily noting that the utilisation of the machine would create employment opportunities for indigenes of the area and bring about human capital development among the people.

He added that his company would also help cashew farmers in Imasayi and its environs expand their acreage of cashew plantation and yield as well as help position farmers in groups so as to access more funding for their business.

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