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Leaked Bank memo spooks holders of domiciliary (dollar) accounts

A memo purportedly sent to the foreign exchange trading desk of a leading commercial Bank has spooked domiciliary account holders.

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A memo purportedly sent to the foreign exchange trading desk of a leading commercial Bank has spooked domiciliary account holders (depositors who keep money in dollars) in banks.

In the memo seen by Nairametrics, the bank mentioned that ” it has become necessary to review the utilization of inflows into customers DOM accounts”. The source  cannot verify the authenticity of the memo. However, it has been widely shared on some social media platforms and was the subject of debate on Twitter.

In the purported letter, the bank recommended utilization actions for a different type of inflows such as inflows from non-oil and oil proceeds, offshore FX inflows, forex inflows from other Nigerian banks, and inflows from “Internal account to account FX transfers (sourced from offshore inflows)” and Internal account to account FX transfers (sourced from FX cash deposits) FX cash lodgment over the counter.

What seems to have spooked some Nigerians were the recommendations made in the memo. For example, under the category that addressed Offshore FX Inflows Local FX inflows (from other Nigerian banks), Internal account to account FX transfers (sourced from offshore inflows), it recommended that “Transfers to third parties are strictly prohibited”. This suggests inflows from abroad into your local account in Nigeria cannot be transferred to anyone else except you sell to the bank or transfer to yourself.

In another type of FX transfers, Internal account to account FX transfers (sourced from FX cash deposits) FX cash lodgment over the counter, it made the following recommendations.

  • The origin and source of the FX deposit should be determined before customer can be credited to ascertain legitimacy
  • FX cash lodgments should be lodged by only account holders and they can have unfettered access by telegraphic transfer up to a limit of $40,000.00 monthly for payment of medical bills, school fees, subscription to professional bodies, etc., subject to existing CBN guidelines
  • Transfer from one customer to another is prohibited
  • Transfer within related companies is allowed subject to a limit of  $50,000.00 per month.
  • Own use for eligible transfers and in cases as deemed by regulators (savings towards investments, etc.). This should be subject to regulatory limits and backed by signed instructions.
  • Cash drawings.

It is unclear if these directives have the backing of the CBN as the origin or the source of the letter cannot be verified at the time of writing this article.

What this means: In recent days we have seen several internal leaks from banks recommending several measures aimed at curbing access to foreign exchange. For example, a text message purportedly shared by a bank and seen by Nairametrics for example stipulates that “customers can no longer effect FX transfers directly to third parties” explaining that customers can only “sell such funds to the banks”.

  • The CBN is yet to comment on any of these memos and as far as we know has not issued any circular publicly to this effect.
  • If this memo is true, then it suggests other banks are seriously considering capital controls that limit FX speculations in the hope that it will extinguish dollar demands.
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CURRENCIES

Exchange rate stabilises at N410/$1 as oil price rallies above $65 per barrel

The exchange rate between the Naira and the US Dollar closed at N410/$1 at the Investors and Exporters window on Monday as oil prices hit $65.24 per barrel

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Monday 22nd February 2021: The exchange rate between the Naira and the US Dollar closed at N410/$1 at the Investors and Exporters window, where forex is traded officially.

Naira remained stable on the NAFEX window to stand at N470 to a dollar on Monday, which is the same rate it closed on the previous trading day.

Also, Naira depreciated on the parallel market to close at N480/$1 on Monday, 22nd February 2021. This represents a N2 drop when compared to N478/$1 recorded on Friday, 19th February 2021.

Brent Crude oil price hit a record high as it closed at $65.24 per barrel as Goldman Sach’s projection indicates bullish trades in Q2 2020.

Trading at the official NAFEX window

The exchange rate between the Naira and Dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window maintained the same rate as recorded on Friday last week to close at N410/$1 on Monday, 22nd February 2021.

  • The opening indicative rate closed at N408.04 to a dollar on Monday. This represents a 43 kobo drop when compared to N407.61 to a dollar that was recorded the previous trading day on Friday, February 19, 2021.
  • An exchange rate of N412 to a dollar was the highest rate during intra-day trading before it closed at N410/$1. It also sold for as low as N389.75/$1 during intra-day trading.
  • Forex turnover at the Investor and Exporters (I&E) window declined by 20.8% on Monday, February 22, 2021.
  • According to the data tracked by Themoneymetrics from FMDQ, forex turnover decreased from $66.41 million recorded on Friday, February 19, 2021, to $52.58 million on Monday, February 22, 2021.

Cryptocurrency Watch

  • The largest cryptocurrency in the world, Bitcoin dipped by 4.76% on Monday to stand $54,753.48 as of 11:10pm.
  • This came after the world’s richest man, Elon Musk disclosed that the price of bitcoin and Ethereum seems to be high.
  • Meanwhile, three days ago, the world’s most demanded crypto-asset breached the $1 trillion market capitalisation to become the sixth most-valuable asset worldwide.
  • It is worth noting that, following the directive of the CBN prohibiting regulated financial institutions from dealing with Cryptos, Nigerians have moved towards peer-to-peer transactions trading directly without a third party.
  • According to a recent study seen by Themoneymetrics , the use of Bitcoin for peer-to-peer lending in Nigeria surged by 16% since the CBN directive took effect about 18 days ago

Crude oil prices top $64 per barrel

Crude oil prices picked up again on Monday as Brent Crude gained an additional $2.33 to close at $65.24 per barrel.

  • The increase represents a 3.7% increase when compared to $62.91 per barrel recorded on the previous trading day.
  • The price increase came shortly after Goldman Sach forecasted that oil prices would climb around $70 per barrel in the second quarter of the year.
  • It could also be attributed to the realization that U.S oil production and refineries will take a bit of time to resume their normal level of output after the Texas Freeze knocked out oil refineries.
  • The oil market rallied despite the news that Saudi Arabia and Russia might be on the verge of a disagreement again over output agreement, which the group will deliberate on in March.
  • Meanwhile, Brent closed at $65.24 (+3.7%), WTI closed at $61.49 (+3.8%), Bonny Light at $62.09 (-1.16%), and Natural Gas closed at $2.946 (-0.24%).

Declining external reserve despite bullish oil prices

Nigeria’s external reserve dipped further on Thursday, 18th February 2021, to stand at $35.47 billion.

  • This represents a decline of 0.15% compared to $35.53 billion recorded as of Wednesday, 17th February 2021.
  • Despite rallying oil prices, Nigeria’s external reserve has recorded a steady decline since the 25th of January 2021, losing a sum of $958.1 million in less than a month.
  • It is worth noting that despite the significant increase recorded earlier in January, the current reserve positive is only $99.9 million more than $35.37 billion recorded as of 31st December 2020.
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CURRENCIES

Exchange rate weakens at NAFEX window as Naira settles at N410/$1

Naira closed against the US Dollar at N410/$1 on Friday, 19th February 2021, indicating a drop of 0.54%

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Friday 19th February 2021: The exchange rate between the Naira and the US Dollar closed at N410/$1 at the NAFEX window, where forex is traded officially. Naira  

Naira closed against the US Dollar at N410/$1, representing a 0.54% drop compared to N407.8/$1 recorded on Thursday 18th February 2021. This is the second time in the week that the exchange rate has closed at N410/$1 and the ninth consecutive trading day it closed over N400/$1.

Also, Naira depreciated at the parallel market to close at N478/$1 on Friday, 19th February 2021This represents a N1 shortfall compared to N477/$1 recorded on the previous day.

Trading at the official NAFEX window

The Naira depreciated against the dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window on Friday, closing at N410/$1 for the second time in the week. This represents a N2.2 drop when compared with the N407.8/$1 that it closed on the previous trading day. 

  • The opening indicative rate closed at N407.61 to a dollar on Friday. This represents a 48 kobo drop when compared to N407.13 to a dollar that was recorded the previous trading day on Thursday, February 18, 2021. 
  • An exchange rate of N424.15 to a dollar was the highest rate during intra-day trading before it closed at N410/$1. It also sold for as low as N390/$1 during intra-day trading. 
  • It is also worth noting that throughout the week, the lowest rate during any inter-day trading was N390/$1. 
  • However, forex turnover at the Investor and Exporters (I&E) window rose by 5.9% on Friday, February 19, 2021. 
  • According to the data tracked by Themoneymetrics from FMDQ, forex turnover increased from $62.69 million on Thursday, February 18, 2021, to $66.41 million on Friday, February 19, 2021. 

Cryptocurrency Watch

Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency in the world reached an all-time high on Sunday, 21st 2021 to stand at $58,022.48 as of 9:37 pm. 

  • This is just two days after the world’s most demanded crypto-asset breached the $1 trillion market capitalisation to become the sixth most-valuable asset worldwide. 
  • So far in the year, Bitcoin has gained 97.2% from $29,424.17 recorded as of 31st of December 2020. 
  • Meanwhile, the richest man in the world, Elon Musk disclosed through his twitter handle that the price of the two leading cryptos seems to be in overbought territory. 
  • However, popular American online financial advisory company, Motley Fool disclosed that it will be investing $5 million in Bitcoins in the coming weeks using the firm’s fund. 

Oil price dips as Saudi Arabia moves to reverse oil production cut

Crude oil price (Brent crude) dipped on Friday, 19th February 2021 to close at $62.91. 

  • Brent Crude oil price declined by 1.6% to close at $62.91 on Friday. 
  • The decline in oil prices came on the back of Saudi Arabia’s move to increase oil output. According to reports during the week Saudi Arabia is poised to reverse its 1mbpd voluntary production cut in the coming weeks. 
  • Also, about 4mb/d of US oil production was sidelined due to power outages and other equipment failures during the week, which include the damage of four of Texas’ largest oil refineries. A development that is expected to reduce crude oil demand. 
  • Meanwhile, WTI closed at $59.24 (-2.12%), OPEC Basket gained 1.52% to close at $63.43, Bonny Light closed at $62.09 (-1.16%) while Natural gas dipped by 0.42% to settle at $3.069. 

Dwindling external reserve

  • Nigeria’s external reserve dipped further by Thursday, 18th February 2021, to stand at $35.47 billion. 
  • This represents a decline of 0.15% compared to $35.53 billion recorded as Wednesday, 17th February 2021. 
  • Despite rallying oil prices, Nigeria’s external reserve has recorded a steady decline since 25th of January 2021, losing a sum of $958.1 million in less than a month. 
  • It is worth noting that despite the significant increase recorded earlier in January, the current reserve positive is only $99.9 million more than $35.37 billion recorded as of 31st December 2020. 
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CURRENCIES

Naira gains at NAFEX window as CBN’s intervention in forex market continues

The Naira appreciated against the dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window on Tuesday, closing at N393.83/$1.

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On January 5, 2020, the exchange rate between the naira and dollar closed at N393.83/$1, the second trading day of 2021 at the Investors and Exporters’ (NAFEX) window where forex is traded officially.

This is an appreciation from the N394.30 recorded on the previous trading day, January 4, 2021.

Themoneymetrics understands that intervention by the Central Bank of Nigeria has forced prices further down on Tuesday, sustaining the appreciation recorded on the last day of trading after the sharp depreciation recorded on the last trading day of 2020.

We also reported last week that the latest round of adjustment at the I&E window is temporary as the rates could fall back below N400/$1.

However, at the black market where forex traded unofficially, the exchange rate continued to remain stable at N470/$1 on Tuesday, January 5, 2021. The exchange rate at the parallel market closed at N470/$1 on the previous trading day January 4, 2021.  It has been trading at N470/$1 since the 29th of December 2020.

The exchange rate disparity between the parallel market and the official market widened again to N76.17 representing a 16% devaluation differential.

NAFEX

The Naira appreciated against the dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window on Tuesday, closing at N393.83/$1 as against N394.30 reported on January 4, 2021.

  • This represents a 47 kobo gain when compared with that of the previous trading day.
  • The opening indicative rate was N394.63 to a dollar on Monday. This represents a N15.3 gain when compared to the N409.93 that was recorded on Monday, January 4, 2021.
  • The N411 to a dollar was the highest rate during intra-day trading before, it still closed at N393.83 to a dollar. It also sold for as low as N387.10/$1 during intra-day trading.

Forex turnover: Forex turnover at the Investor and Exporters (I&E) window rose by 47.3% on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.

  • According to the data tracked by Themoneymetrics from FMDQ, forex turnover rose from $22.75 million on Monday, January 4, 2021, to $33.51 million on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.
  • The average daily forex sale for last week was about $169.93 million, which represents a huge increase from the $34.5 million that was recorded the previous week.
  • The exchange rate is still being affected by low oil prices, dollar scarcity, a backlog of forex demand, and a shaky economy that has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Can the naira sustain below N400?

Last Thursday, December 31, 2020, the central bank allowed the exchange rate to depreciate to N410.25 as a late demand surge forced prices higher. Even though the highest price for the day was N411, the market still closed lower at N393.83 as the trend from the previous trading day continued, blowing any initial belief that a devaluation had occurred last week.

Devaluation supporters who had expected this to be a nudge towards “market reality” will be surprised by the appreciation recorded on Monday, suggesting that the central bank will continue with the defence of the local currency in the new year. On the flip side, policy supporters will cite this as the effect of market forces.

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