Friday, January 16, 2015 5:54 am
Nigeria’s naira fell 1.2 percent to close at 185.60 to the greenback on Thursday, despite the central bank intervening with dollar sales to try to prop up the currency, dealers said.
The unit opened at 183.40 naira to the greenback, the same level it closed at the previous day. But quickly weakened to an intraday low of 186.30 naira in thin trade, prompting the central bank to intervene, dealers said.
At the Bureau de change, the Naira is exchanging N193 to one US dollar.
The bank on Thursday asked 21 commercial lenders to bid for $500,000 each, in an intervention move aimed at providing liquidity to the interbank market and supporting the naira, which has been hard hit by falling global oil prices.
“I think central bank will try to control any uptrend in the currency, to provide liquidity to the market. But for how long is the question,” one dealer said.
The central bank was forced to devalue the naira two months ago to halt the slides in its foreign reserves, after the country’s main export commodity, oil plunged. The bank devalued the naira by 8 percent and tightened trading rules to try to curb speculation against the currency.
But the naira has traded well outside its devalued band of 160-176 – and reserves are still falling.
Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves on Jan. 13 were down 3.2 percent month-on-month from December to $34.51 billion by Jan. 13 because of drawdowns to defend the naira, central bank data showed.
At a separate dollar sale, the central bank sold $249 million to lenders at 168 naira at its twice-weekly forex auction on Wednesday to help meet demand for the greenback, higher than the $200 million it earlier offered.