Home Economy CBN moves to defend Naira, as reserves dip to six-year low

CBN moves to defend Naira, as reserves dip to six-year low

by Business News Report

Central Bank of Nigeria CBN has made moves to defend the Naira exchange rate as it intervened by selling dollar in the foreign exchange market. However Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves dipped to a six-year low of $32.87 billion at the end of December, CBN data has shown. A backlog of unsettled forwards, undelivered promises of dollar inflows and a two-decade peak in inflation have translated into a tumultuous year for the Naira, which has lost over 50 per cent of its value to become the third worst-performing global currency in 2023, said Kyle Chapman, FX markets analyst at London-based Ballinger & Co.

This prompted the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to run down its foreign exchange reserves, which peaked at $47.63 billion in June 2018, to defend the naira. The dollar reserve of Africa’s biggest economy in December dwindled to a level last seen in September 2017, when it stood at $32.16 billion. “The Naira’s downwards momentum is likely to continue through much of 2024, and its ultimate trajectory will depend on whether the CBN’s rhetoric transforms into concrete policy moves that drive up the flow of U.S dollars into Nigeria and shore up trust in the official market,” Chapman said. The Naira last week touched a low of 1,248 naira on official market and sold for N845 on Friday.

It was quoted at N1,210 on the parallel market while on the forwards market the Naira sold for N1,037.50 to dollar for one-month settlement. CBN Governor Olayemi Cardoso has said he would allow market forces to determine exchange rates while setting clear, transparent and harmonised rules governing market operations. “If the CBN’s promised measures materialise and (President Bola) Tinubu’s government enacts structural changes to increase oil production or to drive foreign investment, there is plenty of opportunity for the Naira to lift from its record lows,” Chapman said. But a quick fix is unlikely, and further depreciation will come to counteract supply and demand imbalances.”

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