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Nigeria’s Creditworthiness Improves by Higher Commodity Prices—Report

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Nigeria's Creditworthiness Improves by Higher Commodity Prices—Report

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A new report by the UBS Wealth Management’s Chief Investment Office (CIO) has revealed that Nigeria’s creditworthiness improved by higher commodity prices and stronger economic outlook.

The report on Africa’s sovereign credit prospects, an important benchmark used to evaluate the risk of investing in a country, concludes that after years of deterioration, the credit outlook of many African sovereign issuers was stabilizing or improving.

Africa’s sovereigns have been hit by a range of issues in recent years, including the end of the commodity super cycle, depreciating exchange rates and mounting public debt ratios. Energy exporters, such as Nigeria, were particularly affected.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, has seen several credit rating downgrades in recent quarters, but the recent recovery in energy prices and the potential for further moderate upside should bode well for the sovereign’s creditworthiness.

According to the report’s findings, however, macroeconomic prospects in the region are beginning to improve.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts real GDP growth to almost double this year in Sub-Saharan Africa, reaching 2.6 percent, while fiscal and current account deficits are expected to have peaked at 4.5 percent and 4 percent last year, respectively.

Key drivers supporting the outlook include rising global growth and trade, a modest recovery in energy and base metal prices, more competitive exchange rates for African currencies, and structural reforms in a range of countries.

Head of Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, France and Belgium International at UBS Wealth Management, Ali Janoudi, disclosed that, “The modest energy price recovery over the past 18 months has supported the growth potential of many African economies, but especially Nigeria.

“The more optimistic outlook for sub-Saharan Africa should also affect Nigeria’s economy going forward as the region embarks on a new phase of development.”

On his part, Head of Emerging Market Asset Allocation at UBS Wealth Management’s CIO, Michael Bolliger, noted that, “We expect Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, to recover from recession this year although it is unlikely that growth rates will return to previous highs.

“A determining factor for the country’s growth outlook will be a successful continuation of the Naira’s exchange rate liberalization.”

UBS provides financial advice and solutions to wealthy, institutional and corporate clients worldwide, as well as private clients in Switzerland.

The operational structure of the Group is comprised of our Corporate Center and five business divisions: Wealth Management, Wealth Management Americas, Personal & Corporate Banking, Asset Management and the Investment Bank. UBS’s strategy builds on the strengths of all of its businesses and focuses its efforts on areas in which it excels, while seeking to capitalize on the compelling growth prospects in the businesses and regions in which it operates, in order to generate attractive and sustainable returns for its shareholders.

All of its businesses are capital-efficient and benefit from a strong competitive position in their targeted markets.

UBS is present in all major financial centres worldwide. It has offices in 54 countries, with about 34 percent of its employees working in the Americas, 35 percent in Switzerland, 18 percent in the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa and 13 percent in Asia Pacific.

UBS Group AG employs approximately 60,000 people around the world. Its shares are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

Economy

Naira Shortage: President Buhari Calls for Calm

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President Buhari

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Nigerians to remain calm as they express their anger over the shortage of Naira in the financial system.

Since last week, many citizens of the country have been unable to access their funds in the banks because of a shortage in the supply of the redesigned Naira notes.

This has resulted in a huge crowd at banking premises across the nation, with several persons queuing at Automated Teller Machine (ATM) terminals waiting to withdraw their money with success.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) redesigned the N200, N500, and N1,000 denominations last year and said the old notes would no longer be legal tender from January 31, 2023.

However, while many Nigerians approached their banks last Sunday to quickly deposit their funds to beat the deadline, the CBN announced that the deadline had been moved to February 10, 2023.

The next day, while customers attempted to withdraw their funds over the counter, they were informed that the apex bank had directed them (commercial banks) not to honour cash withdrawal requests.

Also, cash withdrawal from ATMs was limited, making it very difficult for businesses to operate, triggering a protest in Ibadan on Friday.

When the demonstration was going on, Governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) were meeting with President Buhari to persuade him to do something about the Naira scarcity.

After the gathering, he said in a social media post that, “I am aware of the cash shortages and hardship being faced by people and businesses on account of the Naira redesign.

“I want to assure you that we are doing everything to resolve these issues. Nigerians should expect significant improvements between now and the February 10 deadline.

“I met with a delegation of Governors today on the matter. All the complaints about the execution of the currency change are being seriously looked into.

“I will ensure that everything is resolved in a lasting manner, and we will all enjoy the long-term benefits of the decision.”

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Economy

Local Currency Appreciates at P2P, I&E, Depreciates at Black Market

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local currency nigeria

By Adedapo Adesanya

The local currency appreciated by N2 on the United States Dollar at the Peer-2-Peer (P2P) foreign exchange (FX) window, closing at N760/$1 on Friday, February 3, compared with the previous day’s N762/$1, indicating a form of ease as tensions rose across the country following a cash crunch that has triggered anger and aggression in some states.

President Muhammadu Buhari stepped in on Friday and pleaded with Nigerians to give him seven days to resolve the crisis caused by the scarcity of new Naira notes.

The President said he had seen reports about cash shortages and the effect on local businesses and ordinary people.

In the Investors and Exporters (I&E) segment, the Naira recorded a 50 Kobo or 0.11 per cent upward movement against the US Dollar to trade at N461.50/$1 compared with the preceding day’s N462.00/$1.

The day’s trading data showed that the value of forex transactions during the official market slightly increased by 3.54 per cent or $4.08 million to $119.43 million from the $115.35 million recorded a day before.

But in the black market, the Nigerian currency depreciated against the Dollar by N1 to close at N753/$1, in contrast to Thursday’s exchange rate of N752/$1.

In the interbank window, the domestic currency closed flat against the British Pound Sterling and the Euro on Friday at N568.32/£1 and N507.14/€1, respectively.

At the cryptocurrency market, there was a mixed outcome across the tokens tracked by Business Post as moves by the US Federal Reserve to raise rates by 25 basis points continued to send jittery signals.

Binance Coin (BNB) recorded a 2.8 per cent rise to sell at $329.32, Dogecoin (DOGE) grew by 2.4 per cent to trade at $0.0935, Solana (SOL) appreciated by 1.1 per cent to $24.49, Ethereum (ETH) improved by 0.9 per cent to $1,654.18, Cardano (ADA) recorded a 0.6 per cent addition to quote at $0.4006, while Litecoin (LTC) rose by 0.4 per cent to $99.15.

However, Bitcoin (BTC) declined by 0.7 per cent to trade at $23,356.32, and Ripple (XRP) recorded a 0.2 per cent slump to trade at $0.4092, while Binance USD (BUSD) and the US Dollar Tether (USDT) closed flat at $1.00 each.

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Economy

Brent Falls Below $80 on Fresh Rate Hike Concerns

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Brent Price

By Adedapo Adesanya

Brent fell below $80 per barrel as economic indicators raised fears and concerns about higher interest rates amid Europe’s plans to continue restricting Russia.

The international crude benchmark depreciated by $2.23 or 2.7 per cent to $79.94 a barrel, as the US West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) pointed south by $2.49 or 3.3 per cent to trade at $73.39 per barrel.

Prices fell to over three-week lows in a volatile session after strong US jobs data raised concerns about higher interest rates and as investors sought more clarity on the imminent EU embargo on Russian refined products.

It was a tough week for the commodity as Brent registered a 7.8 per cent decline this week while WTI dropped 7.9 per cent.

Job growth in the US accelerated sharply in January amid a persistently resilient labour market. However, analysts note that a further moderation in wage gains should give the Federal Reserve some comfort in its fight against inflation.

The strength in hiring, which occurred despite layoffs in the technology sector as well as in sectors like housing and finance that are sensitive to interest rates, doused market expectations that the US central bank was close to pausing its monetary policy tightening cycle.

The US central bank on Wednesday scaled back to a milder rate increase than those over the past year, but policymakers also projected that ongoing increases in borrowing costs would be needed.

Market analysts noted that the increases in interest rates in 2023 are likely to weigh on the US and European economies, boosting fears of an economic slowdown that is highly likely to dent global crude oil demand.

Also, European Union countries agreed to set price caps on Russian refined oil products to limit Moscow’s funds for its invasion of Ukraine.

EU diplomats said the price caps are $100 per barrel on products that trade at a premium to crude, principally diesel, and $45 per barrel for products that trade at a discount, such as fuel oil and naphtha.

Ambassadors for the 27 EU countries agreed on the European Commission proposal, which will apply from Sunday.

The price caps, together with an EU ban on Russian oil product imports, are part of a broader agreement among the Group of Seven (G7) countries.

It follows a $60 per barrel cap on Russian crude that G7 countries imposed on December 5 as the G7, the EU and Australia seek to limit Russia’s ability to fund its war in Ukraine.

Both caps prohibit Western insurance, shipping and other companies from financing, insuring, trading, brokering or carrying cargoes of Russian crude and oil products unless they were bought at or below the set price caps.

The Russian government said the EU embargo on Russia’s refined oil products would lead to a further imbalance in global energy markets.

In US supply, energy firms this week cut the number of oil and natural gas rigs by the most since June 2020, energy services firm Baker Hughes Co said. US oil rigs fell 10 to 599 this week, their lowest since September, while gas rigs dropped by two to 158.

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