By Dipo Olowookere
Normalcy seems to be returning to the unofficial segment of the foreign exchange (forex) market in Nigeria because the Naira is trading stronger against the United States Dollar at the moment.
About two weeks ago, the Naira started a free-fall in the parallel market after the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said security operatives would go after those converting the local currency to hard currencies.
His remarks, which were made after the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC meeting in Abuja, sent a panic signal into the financial system, sinking the Naira to an all-time low of N715/$1.
However, calm has returned to the market as the Nigerian Naira traded on Monday after at the black market at N680/$1, according to data obtained by Business Post from the various FX traders this reporter interacted with in Lagos.
It was observed that on the buy side, the Dollar is being bought from customers at N670/$1 and it is with caution as most forex traders are scared of biting their fingers in regrets.
“Walahi, I am not willing to buy the Dollar beyond N670/$1 because I don’t know if it will further go down. The ones I bought at N700/$1 and N690/$1 last week thinking it would further go up has made me lose some money and I don’t want to lose more,” one of the forex hawkers at the Alade Market in Ikeja, Lagos, who identified himself as Abdullahi, told this newspaper.
At the Olugbede Model Market in Egbeda, also in Lagos, another FX trader, Adamu Isa, said buying the Dollar is with caution at the moment because nobody knows what will happens next.
“I have stopped buying Dollars at the moment, I only sell and it is for N680/$1. I can manage to buy at N690/$1 but it won’t be many,” he said.
Another FX scarcity looms
Business Post further learned that more forex traders were apprehended by securities operatives for alleged currency speculation. According to information gathered, some were arrested at the Lagos airport and there are indications that this action may affect the value of the Naira in the coming days and currency hawkers would likely fight back and create an artificial scarcity, which would put the Naira into another round of pressure.
Last week, after the Senate summoned Mr Emefiele, officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) raided some bureaux de change (BDC) operators in Abuja. Similar actions were taken across major cities of the federation, resulting in the local currency gaining weight against its American counterpart in the unauthorised FX market.
This is not the first time forex traders are being hunted by security officials as in 2016, the EFCC went after BDCs in a bid to clamp down on their operations.
Currency Swap Will Stabilise, Strengthen Economy—Buhari
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that the currency swap policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would be beneficial to the country.
In a statement posted on Saturday night via the verified Twitter handle of the presidency, @NGRPresident, it was emphasised that the policy was not meant to make the citizens undergo undue hardship but to tackle corruption, currency counterfeiting and others.
According to the statement, the changing of the old Naira notes to the new ones will stabilise and strengthen the country’s economy.
In October 2022, the central bank said it was redesigning the N200, N500, and N1,000 notes and gave Nigerians till Tuesday, January 31, 2023, to deposit the old notes as they would no longer be legal tender.
Many Nigerians have called on the CBN to extend the deadline, while the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Bola Tinubu, believes that the policy was aimed at frustrating his chances of winning the presidential election on February 25, 2023.
But Mr Buhari “assured that government will ensure that citizens are unharmed in their businesses and no disruption is caused to the entire supply chain arising from the currency swap due to end shortly.”
Reacting to reports of long queues of people waiting for hours for their turn to deposit old notes and get new ones, triggering public anger and opposition’s criticism, “the President reiterated that the currency changes were aimed at people hoarding illicit funds and not the common man and that it had become necessary to prevent counterfeits, corruption, and terrorist funding. This, he assured, will stabilize and strengthen the economy.”
“While taking note that the poorest section of society is facing hardship as they often keep hard cash at home for various expenses, President Buhari gave strong assurances that the government will not leave them to their own fate.
“He reiterated that a number of initiatives by the CBN and all commercial banks are underway to speed up distribution of the new notes and do all that is necessary to forestall cash squeeze and chaos.”
Guinness, MTN, Access Holdings, Others Crash Stock Market by 0.18%
By Dipo Olowookere
The Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited depreciated by 0.18 per cent on Friday as investors sold off shares of Access Holdings, Guinness Nigeria, Cadbury Nigeria, MTN Nigeria and seven others.
Cutix ended as the worst-performing stock after it topped the losers’ chart, with a price depreciation of 8.11 per cent to close at N2.04. International Breweries lost 6.12 per cent to settle at N4.60, GlaxoSmithKline fell by 4.41 per cent to close at N6.50, Access Holdings declined by 4.26 per cent to N9.00, and Guinness Nigeria dropped 3.71 per cent to end at N70.00.
On the flip side, CAP topped the gainers’ chart after it grew by 9.83 per cent to N19.55, Northern Nigerian Flour Mills expanded by 9.76 per cent to N6.75, Japaul increased by 9.68 per cent to 34 Kobo, Tripple Gee improved by 9.38 per cent to N1.05, and Cornerstone Insurance rose by 9.26 per cent to 59 Kobo.
Despite the loss, at the close of business, the market breadth ended positively with 24 price gainers and 11 price losers, indicating a strong investor sentiment.
From the analysis, the bearish outcome was triggered by the poor performance of the consumer goods and the banking sectors, which lost 0.39 per cent and 0.03 per cent, respectively.
However, the insurance space appreciated by 0.36 per cent, the energy sector went up by 0.13 per cent, and the industrial goods counter closed higher by 0.01 per cent.
When the market closed for the day, the All-Share Index (ASI) went down by 95.08 points to 52,657.88 points from 52,752.96 points, and the market capitalisation dropped N52 billion to N28.681 trillion from N28.733 trillion.
On the last trading session of the week, investors transacted 171.1 million shares valued at N2.3 billion in 3,599 deals compared with the 139.7 million worth N2.0 billion traded in 3,549 deals on Thursday, indicating an increase in the trading volume, value and the number of deals by 22.48 per cent, 15.00 per cent, and 1.41 per cent, respectively.
Fidelity Bank finished the day as the most active stock as it transacted 26.7 million units, with Chams trading 17.8 million units. FBN Holdings exchanged 15.1 million equities, Japaul sold 9.1 million shares, and GTCO transacted 8.7 million stocks.
Naira Trades N461.75/$1 at I&E, N760/$1 at P2P, N750/$1 at Parallel Market
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian Naira depreciated against the United States Dollar in the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window of the foreign exchange market on Friday by 50 Kobo or 0.11 per cent to close at N461.75/$1 compared with the exchange rate of N461.25/$1 on Thursday.
This was caused by FX demand pressure on the Naira during the trading session as people with the local currency made efforts to offload the higher denominations of N200, N500, and N1,000 ahead of the January 31 deadline of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Yesterday, the value of forex transactions in the official window closed at $97.67 million, in contrast to the $45.16 million recorded in the preceding trading day, indicating an increase of 116.3 per cent or $52.51 million.
However, in the Peer-to-Peer (P2P) arm of the FX market, the domestic currency appreciated against its American pair by N2 to trade at N762/$1, in contrast to Thursday’s value of N764/$1.
Also, in the parallel market, the local currency appreciated against the greenback yesterday by N2 to sell at N750/$1 versus the previous day’s exchange rate of N752/$1.
In the interbank window, the Nigerian currency closed flat against the Pound Sterling and the Euro during the session at N567.45/£1 and N500.73/€1, respectively.
Meanwhile, in the crypto market, it was another good day for investors as most of the tokens monitored by Business Post closed higher, with Bitcoin (BTC) rising above $23,000 on Friday as traders awaited next week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) decision on interest rates and any hints policymakers may drop about when their hiking campaign might end.
The largest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation gained 1.2 per cent yesterday to trade at $23,096.01, as its rival, Ethereum (ETH), moved up by 1.6 per cent to $1,596.65.
Cardano (ADA) climbed higher by 4.3 per cent to finish at $0.3883, Dogecoin (DOGE) grew by 2.9 per cent to $0.0874, Solana (SOL) jumped by 2.3 per cent to trade at $24.42, Litecoin (LTC) appreciated by 1.9 per cent to quote at $88.58, Binance Coin (BNB) nudged up by 1.5 per cent to $307.42, and Ripple (XRP) rose by 1.2 per cent to $0.4106, while the US Dollar Tether (USDT) and Binance USD (BUSD) closed flat at $1.00 each.
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