CENTRAL BANK SUSPENDS DOLLAR TO NAIRA TRADES TILL MONDAY
LAGOS, June 16 (Reuters) – Nigeria’s central bank made no dollar to naira trades on the interbank market on Thursday but settled $13.6 million of trades made on previous days at about the naira’s pegged rate of 197.5 per dollar, an official said.
The central bank said on Wednesday it would begin open-market foreign currency trading next week, abandoning its 16-month-old peg against the dollar and setting the stage for the Nigerian currency to fall sharply.
Dealers said they expected no interbank currency market activity until the new trading regime starts on Monday.
“Central bank is not selling any money. Those who want to trade can do that among themselves,” the official said, referring to the volumes as “carryover trades” agreed but not settled before Wednesday’s announcement.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest crude exporter, has resisted devaluing its currency for more than a year even though other major oil producers, including Russia, Kazakhstan and Angola, have allowed their currencies to fall as crude prices plunged.
Currency traders were meeting on Thursday to discuss the new rules and will seek to determine trading spreads including circuit breakers, if any, they say.
“The rules are just a guideline. The practicality is totally different so people are holding on until Monday,” one trader said.
Three economists estimated the fair value of the naira at between 280 and 300 against the dollar, although the black market rate is around 370. (Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha and Oludare Mayowa; Editing by Catherine Evans)