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Euro Falls After German Coalition Talks Collapse - WSJ

NOVEMBER 21, 2017

Single currency also declines 0.6% against the British pound

 

By Saumya Vaishampayan

The euro fell on Monday after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s efforts to form a government in Germany collapsed overnight, leaving the eurozone’s largest economy in political limbo almost two months after its general election.

The currency fell 0.5% against the U.S. dollar, its biggest decline since Oct. 26, to $1.1733. The euro also lost 0.6% against the British pound to €1.1279 per pound. The Wall Street Journal dollar index, which measures the currency against 16 others, rose 0.4% to 87.40 from 87.09 Friday. Investors continue to focus on the odds of a tax bill passing in the Senate, where a vote is scheduled after Thanksgiving.

Ms. Merkel’s conservative alliance won the September election but finished with its worst result since 1949, forcing the longtime German leader to try to cobble together a coalition with a majority in Parliament. That effort hit a roadblock late Sunday in Germany after the chairman of the small, pro-business Free Democratic Party ended talks with Ms. Merkel’s conservative camp and the center-left Greens.

“It’s very concerning, and creates this big uncertainty in the eurozone,” said Kisoo Park, a global bond manager at Manulife Asset Management in Hong Kong, adding that he expects the euro to fall further in the short term.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks after talks on forming a new government broke down in Berlin.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks after talks on forming a new government broke down in Berlin. PHOTO: TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

The collapse of coalition talks in Germany is the latest episode of political turmoil to hit Europe. Spain has cracked down on the region of Catalonia after it declared independence following a referendum the Madrid government had deemed illegal. Meanwhile, the U.K. has made little progress in its divorce proceedings from the European Union.

The prospect of prolonged political uncertainty in Germany is particularly worrying for markets. Ms. Merkel has long been seen as Europe’s pre-eminent political leader, having steered Germany through both the global financial crisis and the subsequent crisis in Greece.

 

Her decision to let in hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants from Syria and other countries in 2015 stoked strong domestic opposition, however. Anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany performed strongly in September’s election, winning some 13% of the vote.

“Germany has been the more stable country in the region and globally, but if that goes away, then that could cause a cascade of fallouts,” said Mr. Park, citing possible effects on the Brexit talks and parliamentary elections due next year in Italy.

Ms. Merkel will continue to lead a caretaker government in Germany for now. The chancellor could try again to woo enough parties to form a ruling coalition, or attempt to run a minority government. A further option is for Germany to have a fresh general election.

Despite periodic political problems in Europe this year, the euro has surged more than 11% against the U.S. dollar. The common currency has also advanced nearly 7% against the yen and more than 4% against the British pound so far in 2017.

“What we’ve seen globally is a shift to more extreme parties. The euro has managed to ride this out, and the reaction in the euro [this year] has been much more dependent on growth,” said Mitul Kotecha, head of Asia foreign-exchange and rates strategy at Barclays in Singapore.

 

The eurozone economy is on track for its strongest year since 2007, though growth slowed slightly in the third quarter and inflation fell. That combination of improved economic growth and low inflation should ensure that the European Central Bank will begin reducing its monthly bond purchases slowly, much like the Federal Reserve, as it begins to unwind its easy monetary policy.

Mr. Kotecha said he still expects the euro to end 2017 at $1.17, near its current level, and he expects the euro to rise further next year, driven by improving growth and a weaker dollar.

 

—Andrea Thomas contributed to this article.

Write to Saumya Vaishampayan at saumya.vaishampayan@wsj.com

Forget The Fed: The Long Bond Is Deciding the Dollar’s Future - WSJ

NOVEMBER 21, 2017

Short-term interest rates aren’t the big deal to currency markets that they once were

 

By James Mackintosh

The foreign exchanges have a message for central bankers: the short-term interest rates they set aren’t the big deal they once were. After more than $12 trillion of quantitative easing world-wide, currency markets are now more sensitive to the gyrations of the long-dated bonds vacuumed up by the central banks—and that makes them even harder to predict than usual.

The change comes at a delicate time for central banks, with the U.S. tentatively cutting its holding of Treasurys and mortgage bonds by $10 billion a month and the European Central Bank about to taper its bond-buying program. A currency market more focused on long-dated bonds gives policy makers less control over exchange rates and domestic financial conditions than usual, just at a moment when they want to keep a firm grip to avoid upset.

In the past it was short-term interest rates—and the two-year bond yield, which reflects near-term anticipated rate changes—that were most important for major currencies. The more interest it was possible to earn in a country, the more money was attracted, and the more the currency went up. The extra yield available on U.S. two-year bonds above German two-year bonds, for example, was typically tightly correlated with moves in the dollar-euro exchange rate.

Bonds and the DollarThe link between the dollar and the extra income available from U.S. safe assets is strong. Unusually,this year the link was stronger with long-dated bonds than short-dated ones.Correlation between weekly change in dollar-euro exchange rate and in spreads between Treasurysand German bunds

%10 yearTwo year2000’02’04’06’08’10’12’14’16’18-20-1001020304050607080

Correlation between weekly change in dollar-yen exchange rate and in spreads between Treasurys and Japanese governmentbondsTHE WALL STREET JOURNALSource: Thomson Reuters DatastreamNote: Correlation of weekly change, rolling 47 weeks (2017 so far)

%10 yearTwo year1996’982000’02’04’06’08’10’12’14’16’18-60-40-2002040608010 yearxJune 15, 2001x16.536%

There are at least two really good reasons why this should be causal, not merely chance correlation. First, money flows. Higher interest rates attract short-term speculative cash chasing what traders call “carry,” the extra interest available in one currency over another. Second, fundamentals. Higher rates are a sign that an economy is doing better or inflation is rising, both of which justify a stronger currency, at least in nominal terms.

The logic has broken down this year for both flows of money and fundamentals, and the year-to-date correlation between 10-year yield differentials and the dollar’s value against each of the euro, yen and sterling hit the highest since at least the early 1990s in September.

 

Japanese and European investors have been buying longer-dated U.S. Treasurys because of negative interest rates on cash and short-dated bonds at home, so flows are more sensitive to long bond yields than in the past. At the same time, central banks are suppressing the usual reaction of economic fundamentals. The ECB has promised not to raise rates for a long time, even as the eurozone economy is growing at its fastest pace in five years. That means speculation about economic fundamentals moves longer-dated bonds a lot more than short-dated bonds, and in turn moves the currency.

“The short-term [rates] differential contains less information because you essentially have stability of short-term rates in Europe,” says Amundi fixed income and foreign exchange strategist Bastien Drut in Paris. Instead, the German 10-year bund swung about as bets on the ECB reacting to a stronger economy by pulling back from its bond-buying program ebbed and flowed—and the euro’s value against the dollar moved with it.

Even during the rally in the dollar in the past two months the focus has stayed on long bonds, as 10-year Treasury yields rose more than those on Germany’s bunds, which are still well below their July high for the year.

The focus on long bonds helps explain why many traders were caught off guard by the plunging value of the dollar this year, when the currency disconnected from its usual tie to short-term yields. The dollar dropped even as the Federal Reserve raised the overnight policy rate twice, with a third raise expected next month. What mattered instead was the 10-year Treasury yield, which plummeted from 2.5% in late December to a low of 2.05% in September, even as German 10-year bond yields picked up and Japanese yields did almost nothing.

Technically the major central banks should care little about the currency, with policy about the dollar the preserve of the U.S. Treasury and the ECB targeting inflation, not the exchange rate. In practice a stronger or weaker currency can have dramatic effects on how tight monetary policy is, neutralizing or exaggerating the effects of changes in interest rates.

This year the Fed’s efforts to tighten monetary policy have been undone by the weaker dollar and lower 10-year yields, which supported booming credit and equity markets. The U.S. has the loosest financial conditions since 1993, according to a measure compiled by the Chicago Fed, despite two rate rises. Back in 1993 bond differentials were strongly tied to the value of the dollar, although back then short-dated bonds mattered more.

With inflation still below target, the Fed hasn’t been that bothered by the failure of its interest-rate policies to bite. If that changes, 1993 was a past that would make an unpleasant prologue: the following year the Fed seized control with surprise rate increases that shocked investors, pushing up bond yields and breaking their link to the dollar entirely.

Write to James Mackintosh at James.Mackintosh@wsj.com

Expectations as Monetary Policy Committee meet to review interest rate - BUSINESSDAY

NOVEMBER 21, 2017

With the country being out of its five straight quarterly contraction and falling inflation rates, the monetary policy committee (MPC) of the central bank is scheduled to have its last meeting of the month on 20th and 21st of November 2016, and there are high expectations on the outcome.

 

The MPC  had on September 2017 held on to the 14% interest rate to observe various economic indicators – including growth, budget implementation in order to curb inflation, make naira attractive, increase foreign direct investment(FDI),and also help our bleeding external  reserves. The last time the interest rate was changed was in July 2016 when the CBN monetary rate was moved from 13percent to 14percent.

 

At a communiqué issued after the MPC meeting in September, “the Committee believes that the effects of fiscal policy actions towards stimulating the economy have begun to manifest as evident in the exit of the economy from the fifteen-month recession. Although still fragile, the fragility of the growth makes it imperative to allow more time to make appropriate complementary policy decisions to strengthen the recovery”.

 

DolapoAsiru CEO CLG Securities Limited while reacting to the forthcoming MPC meeting, “He foresees a do-nothing MPC next week Monday, although he admitted that all indication shows the interest rate will come down but not this year. He foresees the rate coming down from Q1, 2018”.

 

With FOREX now relatively stable, Inflation rates decreasing to 15.98percent, and External reserves at $33.69b and increase in dollar stability. Analysts are expecting a looser policy from the MPC scheduled to meet next week Monday. According to Moscow based investment firm Renaissance Capital, “MPC believes we will have more clarity on growth and inflation by first quater 2018. We think the committee may start cutting the policy rate at the March 2018 meeting, by 1 ppt. Additional arguments in favour of looser policy are: inflation is not demand driven; we see non-food inflation slowing to 10-11% in first quarter 2018″

 

Ayo Akinwummi says “they will likely reduce MPR due to stability in the economy and the positives coming from foreign exchange. On the implications of the reduction of MPR, “the yield in the market will go down and source of funds may likely go down and with improvement on the economy credit accessibility will also increase”. Akinwummi added

 

On the reason for the for the MPC rate still at 14% as at September 2017 The CBN Governor Mr Godwin Emefiele addressing newsmen at the last MPC meeting said “we are Conscious of the prevailing market sentiments in favour of a rate cut; the committee reasoned that most of its decisions in 2016 were informed by the need to address the delicate balance between price stability and growth. Noting that the pressures on consumer prices were yet to abate and even as the economy continued to be in recession despite the intervention support by the CBN, the committee stressed that it was not oblivious of the full ramifications of the economic challenges facing the country,“

 

On the implication of the interest rate remaining at 14percent ,Mr DolapoAsiru said ”Banks will gradually embrace the fact that the case of high interest income is coming to a close; banks will start doing proper lending rather than placing money on Treasury bill.”

 

The MPC will also be reviewing the cash reserve ratio, liquidity ratio and asymmetric corridor. Majority of the key stakeholders in the economy will be monitoring the outcome of the meeting and be expecting the CBN to be more hawkish in its policies.

 

Oladehinde Oladipo

 

Nigeria, US sign MoU to deepen economic cooperation - BUSINESSDAY

NOVEMBER 21, 2017

Investors dumped Zimbabwean stocks every day since the military seized power on optimism that 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe will be forced to step down.

The stocks, which are denominated in U.S. dollars and were used to hedge against rising inflation, fell 10 percent on Monday to an eight-week low of 387.38, bringing the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange Industrial Index’s retreat since the army’s takeover on the morning of Nov. 15 to 27 percent.

The bourse’s market capitalisation has plunged $4.8 billion in that period to $11.1 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

Zimbabwe’s stocks soared this year after the government printed a new form of money — called bond notes — to deal with a cash shortage, stoking concerns over price growth in a nation that saw inflation jump into the billions of percent about a decade ago. While the southern African nation has mostly used the dollar since scrapping its own worthless currency in 2009, greenbacks have become scarce as Zimbabwe’s balance of payments position has worsened.

Investors pointed to the so-called Old Mutual gap as a sign of how unrealistic Zimbabwean valuations had become. While the insurer’s shares trade at the dollar-equivalent of about $2.52 in London and Johannesburg, they rose to $14.30 by Nov. 14 in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. They have since fallen to $9.25.

The developments have “materially improved the prospect of a change in leadership and an ultimate re-opening of foreign capital inflow,” driving the Old Mutual Implied Rate down, Hasnain Malik, an analyst at Exotix Capital in Dubai, wrote in a note on Monday. “Falling local share prices are, until OMIR approaches zero, a reflection of increasing macroeconomic optimism.”

AU to investigate sale of African migrants as slaves in Libya - BUSINESSDAY

NOVEMBER 21, 2017

The AU said on Tuesday it had launched an investigation into the sale of African migrants as slaves by armed groups in Libya.

“The AU would try to get access to illegal detention centres in which migrants were held without charges.

“We have asked the Libyan authorities to facilitate the ongoing inquiries. The perpetrators will be dealt with through the justice system,’’ AU Commission Chair, Moussa Mahamat told journalists in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

Mahamat said the AU had dispatched its Commissioner for Social Affairs, Amir El-Fadil as a special envoy to Libya to launch the inquiry, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

The AU has appealed to its 55 member states to provide logistics support to enable the evacuation of the migrants held in Libya to their countries of origin.

The AU decision to launch an investigation comes days after American television network CNN broadcast footage of African migrants being auctioned off as slaves in Libya for as little as 400 dollars.

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres had on Monday said he was “horrified’’ by the footage.

Nigeria earns N271.77bn from solid minerals in eight years - THE GUARDIAN

NOVEMBER 21, 2017

By Roseline Okere

 

* NEITI calls for release of N30bn development funds

Nigeria earned a total of N271.77 billion from 2007 to 2015, according to the latest data from the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).

NEITI, which made this disclosure in a report released weekend, explained that the country in 2007, earned N8.19 billion; 2008, N9.58 billion; 2009, N19.42 billion; 2010; N17.36 billion; 2011, N26.92 billion; 2012; N31.44 billion; 2013; N33.86 billion 2014, N55.80 billion; and 2015, N69.2 billion.

To sustain this growth and further enhance the capacity of the sector to contribute to the economy, NEITI called for “the speedy release of the N30 billion solid minerals development fund recently approved by the Federal Executive Council to the intended beneficiaries, to support some of the activities already stipulated in the Roadmap for the sector.”

 

The audit report disclosed that the total production of solid minerals in the country stood at 39.27 million tons. This represents a reduction of 17 per cent from the 47.1 million tonnes produced in 2014. The drop in 2015’s production was attributed to insecurity in parts of the country and more stringent approval process for explosives used in mining.

However, while mineral production reduced, government revenues went up in the same year. “This increase in revenue was due to the growth in taxes collected from the sector and review of royalty rates paid by companies which came into effect within the year under review,” the report stated. NEITI’s previous solid minerals audit reports had recommended upward review of Nigeria’s royalty rates to align with prevailing industry and present day realities.

The report also disclosed that the value of solid minerals exports in 2015 stood at $9.733 million, which was 1.45 per cent of non-oil exports for the year. Lead and zinc topped the chart with 79 per cent valued at $7.7 million, while 175 ounces of gold valued at only $122,000 were exported during the period.

The report showed that the solid minerals sector contributed 0.12 per centt to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015, a marginal increase of 0.01 per cent on the 0.11 per cent contribution of the sector to GDP in 2014.

“This report shows evidence that the contribution of the solid minerals sector to government revenues and macro-economic indicators is beginning to improve, even if marginally,” said Waziri Adio, NEITI’s Executive Secretary. “The sector could definitely contribute more to revenues, job and wealth creation, exports, imports substitution, industrial development and overall national growth.”

“But there is a sign of progress already,” Adio added. “What we need to do is to build on, deepen and sustain this early promise to ensure that the country returns to being a major mining destination and maximizes the abundant opportunities offered by the sector”.

“Faithful and sustained implementation of the roadmap developed by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and of the recommendations in this report will be necessary.”

Operators in oil, gas sector charged to be proactive - THE GUARDIAN

NOVEMBER 21, 2017

By Inemesit Akpan-Nsoh Uyo

 

Operators in the oil and gas industry in the country have been urged to be more responsive and proactive by latching on the Federal Government’s unrelenting efforts at reforming the hydrocarbon industry to become more attractive to investors.

This advice was given by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan at the on-going technical session/meeting of officers and experts at the 2nd National Council on Hydrocarbon, in Uyo Akwa Ibom state capital.

The Permanent Secretary who is chairing the technical session noted that, since the inauguration of the council in 2016, it has brought a turning point in the oil and gas sector, stressing that, the industry now has sustainable platform to grow linkages for the convergence of ideas.

With the theme, ‘7 Big Wins; Framework For Realizing the Potential of Hydrocarbon’, she explained that, all the reforms and other initiatives by government are all aimed at making the country oil and gas sector attractive to both domestic and foreign investors.

With participants drawn from oil producing state, services chiefs, SSS, Police, National Assembly, traditional rulers, indigenous oil companies, NGOs, host communities, among others, she noted that it was time to diversify the sector as such would certainly opened up the sector to more business opportunity and at the same time provide viable source of revenue to the country.

“It is envisaged that this technical session of officers and experts would evolve in a manner that would consistently assist council to channel its resolutions towards the strengthening of policies and initiatives in the oil and gas sector.

“With constant fluctuation in oil revenues globally, it is only wise to begin to leverage on creative means of diversifying the oil and gas sector so as to open up the sector to more and better business opportunities as well as provide viable source of revenue for the country as encapsulated under the aims and objectives of the 7 Big Wins”, she said.

She expressed the hope that, with the caliber of participants, their contributions would help government at arriving at decisions that would make the oil and gas sector attractive to investors.

Earlier, the commissioner for Transport and Petroleum Oman Esin, who represented the governor, Udom Emmanuel, expressed the hope that with proper implementation of programmees and policies in the hydrocarbon sub sector, such would go a long way into making the oil and gas sector investor friendly.

He noted that, as a state, it has forwarded a lot of Memos to the technical committee for considerations, noting that, once such are given considerations, it would mean a serious in-road into the development of the Hydrocarbon industry.

“I wish to urge the Technical Committees to consider policies that will fast-track exploitation of hydrocarbon in a safe, secure and friendly environment for the benefit of the nation and the development of the Host Communities”, he said.

Lagos fixes N1.3m as tentative fare for 2018 Hajj - NAN

NOVEMBER 21, 2017

By Abdulrahman Kadiri

The Lagos State Muslim Pilgrims’ Welfare Board has announced the sum of N1.3 million as tentative fare for the 2018 Hajj exercise.

Mr Muftau Okoya, Executive Secretary of the board, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos that sale of forms for the 2018 exercise has also commenced.

He said that the early commencement of preparations was to avoid hiccups and to make payment easy and flexible for intending pilgrims.

“Intending pilgrims are to collect forms from the Board’s office in Ikeja at the cost N10,000.

“In respect of the Hajj fare, an initial deposit of N1.3 million has been approved, pending when the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) will release the official price.

“There is also an opportunity for installmental payment with at least N100,000 minimum deposits,” he said.
He advised intending pilgrims to make payment on time to avoid logistics challenges experienced during last operation.
“We have commenced preparations early to avoid some of such challenges.

“The policy of first-come-first-served will be applied in the allocation of pilgrims to hotels, tents and other facilities by NAHCON,” he said.

He noted that the increase in the number of pilgrim allocation to countries without commensurate upgrade in facilities created a major challenge during the 2017 Hajj.

“Our greatest challenge in the last operation was in Muna.

“There was an upsurge in the number of pilgrims because Saudi authorities admitted too many pilgrims at the detriment of the available facilities.

“So the facilities were overstretched to the extent that Lagos pilgrims encountered the problem of accommodation in Muna.

“But Lagos State pilgrims put their maturity to test by ensuring that these challenges were overcome with patience and understanding,” he said. (NAN)

Shippers’ association says Nigeria loses one trillion Naira to cargo diversion - PUNCH

NOVEMBER 21, 2017

The Shippers’ Association Lagos State (SALS) on Tuesday said the country lost N1 trillion annually through cargo diversion to ports in neighbouring countries due to bad roads to Lagos ports.

Mr. Jonathan Nicol, SALS President told reporters in Lagos that the losses arose from import duties and other charges not paid to Nigerian ports.

According to him, there is massive diversion of Nigeria-bound cargo to ports in neighbouring countries due to bad access roads to Lagos ports.

The shippers said that demurrage, terminal charges and storage fees incurred by shippers ran into billions of naira daily.

 

“There are also queue of vessels within the Lome waters awaiting call-up for berthing in Lagos ports.

“This will attract port congestion levy on cargo, which is no fault of the shippers (importers and exporters).

“Demurrage on containers is increasing with no control from maritime agencies. Importers and exporters are suffering,’’ he said.

Nicol called on the contractor handling the rehabilitation of the access roads to Apapa port to expedite action to reduce problems encountered by shippers and truck owners.

“Industrialists are incurring huge expenses on haulage due to lack of access roads and they are counting more losses daily.

There is no entry into Lagos ports and no access out of the ports after loading,’’ the shipper said, adding that truck drivers remained on queue for several days.

He, however, commended Dangote Group, Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for their assistance in rehabilitating access roads to Apapa ports.

“It should be noted that they (Dangote and Flour Mills) are industrialists going the extra mile to keep the maritime industry afloat,’’ the shippers said.

Nicol said that the export initiative of the Federal Government was also under threat as export goods spent several days before arriving at the ports.

To avert congestion, he suggested that the backlog of goods at the ports should be cleared.

According to him, the port congestion of the past is mounting again and may lead to prolonged litigation on who pays the charges.

Nicol advised that empty containers inside the ports should be exported as a priority.

He, however, said that the association would not subscribe to the idea of moving containers released at the ports to Papalanto in Ogun.

“The cost of moving such boxes (containers) to factories in Lagos and other places will be too high.

“Cargo taken to Papalanto will be treated as up-country cargo and will attract high haulage fees,’’ Nicol said.

(NAN)

Naira down marginally as CBN injects $210m - VANGUARD

NOVEMBER 21, 2017 By Adaeze Okechukwu The Naira, Monrday, depreciated marginally to N360.42 per dollar in the Investor and Exporter (I&E) Foreign Exchange, forex, window, even as the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, injected $210 million into the inter-bank forex market.

The indicative exchange rate for the I & E Window, known as Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange, NAFEX, depreciated by 2 kobo to N360.42 per dollar, from N360.40 per dollar at the close of the market last week. Meanwhile, the volume of dollars traded in the window yesterday stood at $346.36 million.
Meantime, in a bid to boost liquidity and trade, the CBN injected $210 million into the interbank market. Confirming the intervention, Acting Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, said that, “the CBN offered the total sum of $100million to the wholesale segment, while the Small and Medium Enterprises segment received the sum of $55 million. The invisibles segment, comprising tuition fees, medical payments and Basic Travel Allowance (BTA), among others, also received an allocation of $55 million.”

Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/11/naira-marginally-cbn-injects-210m/

Naira sells at N362.5 per dollar at parallel market - PUNCH

NOVEMBER 21, 2017

The Naira on Tuesday traded at N362.5 to the dollar at the parallel market.

Meanwhile, the Pound Sterling and the Euro closed at N476 and N426 respectively.

At the Bureau De Change window, the Naira flattened at N362 to the dollar, while the Pound Sterling and the Euro closed at N476 and N426 respectively.

Trading at the interbank window saw the Naira closed at N359.87, while the CBN rate closed at N305.9 to the dollar.

 

Traders said that patronage at the market was slow as they awaited the outcome of the Monetary Policy Committee meeting of the CBN.

Meanwhile, Mr Godwin Emefiele, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Governor, noted that the investors and exports window had maintained a positive influence in the foreign exchange market

Emefiele said at the end of the MPC meeting that the window transacted more than $18.7bn since it commenced transaction in April.

He added that the Naira had remained stable at the parallel market, while the investors ’window had boosted confidence in the economy.

The MPC meeting of the CBN retained the benchmark interest rate at 14 per cent alongside other monetary policy parameters.

The CBN had injected$ 210m into the foreign exchange market on Monday to boost liquidity.

The series of interventions by the apex bank at the nation’s foreign exchange market had been critical in defending the Naira against the antics of currency speculators.

(NAN)

62 Insane Facts About Bitcoin (Infographic) - BITCOIN PLAY

NOVEMBER 09, 2017

[Infographic – Updated October 2017]

Bitcoin is a virtual currency that uses Blockchain technology for secure payments and storing money electronically, without requiring a bank or a person’s name. Satoshi Nakamoto created this cryptocurrency back in 2009. The biggest advantage of Bitcoin is that it’s not under control of central authority, government or private company, so people are free from paying transaction fees. It can be used for booking a hotel or flight, or purchasing products online, as many online stores and companies accept Bitcoin now.

Today, there are 1354 Bitcoin ATMs in 55 countries around the world and about 5.8 million users that have digital wallets. The price for one Bitcoin at the moment is $5,602 and it’s growing continuously, proportionally with the interest for digital money.

Take a look at this infographic, created by the team behindBitcoinPlay, that illustrates in details some interesting facts about this incredibly popular virtual currency.

Diesel-dependent Nigeria looks up to the sun - FT

NOVEMBER 07, 2017

It is Nigeria’s migraine-inducing anthem: the incessant drone of millions of diesel generators straining to power homes and offices starved of electricity by the feeble state of the national grid. While it is hard to imagine this cacophony as anything other than the sound of the country’s propensity for self-sabotage, Ademola Adesina hears only opportunity in the din........

https://www.ft.com/content/13e73f98-a512-11e7-8d56-98a09be71849

AfDB salutes Nigeria’s economic recovery, diversification efforts - PUNCH

NOVEMBER 07, 2017

The Nigeria House of Representatives has constituted a Tactical Committee on Economic Recession to guide innovative legislative actions by the House and the National Assembly to return the economy to the path of growth and stability.  In this regard, the committee is holding a summit in the nation’s capital, Abuja, on 6 and 7 November 2017.

The Summit will bring strategic stakeholders together to interact on relevant issues of concern and develop a legal framework for economic recovery and sustainable development in Nigeria. It is expected that deliberations at the Summit will enhance the quality of legislative reforms for economic development.

The African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Nigeria Senior Director, Ebrima Faal, representing AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina at the summit noted that Nigeria’s sound growth prospects are increasingly underpinned by generally improved macroeconomic policies, low external debt, political stability, and good governance. Fewer conflicts and more democratic institutions, have also provided better clarity for investors as evidenced by the recent improvements in Nigeria’s ranking in the ease of doing business index.

Faal said that despite reports to the contrary, the AfDB is in consultation with the Government about how best to support the country’s laudable Economic and Growth Recovery Plan. He added: “I would like to stress that the African Development Bank Group is highly encouraged by the economic recovery of Nigeria from recession, and the Bank salutes the Government’s efforts toward diversification of the economy. The Bank also strongly supports the Economic and Growth Recovery Plan (ERGP) of the Government; including efforts to stem corruption and strengthen fiscal consolidation and efficiency. ‘’We shall continue to strengthen our engagement and ties with the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The country is the largest and most important shareholder of the African Development Bank Group, and as such our commitment to Nigeria is resolute.”

In a passionate presentation titled ‘The Nigerian Recession – We must never Walk this Way Again,’ Nigeria’s Vice President, Yomi Osinbajo said that recession was not an option for Nigeria.

“Never again should we experience the horrors of being in a state of recession. Reliance on dwindling oil revenue and unbridled, unprecedented corruption and waste were the major causes of the 2017 recession,” he said, noting that the country could have fared better going into a recession if it had had savings instead of debt.

“We did not have the fiscal buffers to enable a counter approach,’’ he said, citing the intractable delay in the budget approval process and the long procurement processes that followed as the  two other major forces that deepened the recession. “No developing economy can afford the luxury of long legislative rambling over the budget. Budgetary delay in a situation of national economic emergency and the hardship encountered by so many is simply unacceptable,” he said.

The Vice President said the Economic Recovery and Growth Programme remains Nigeria’s blueprint for development actions going forward. He reminded the group that “the obligation that history and providence has forced upon us today is to honestly do all we can to ensure that the future of our people is secure and prosperous. We must not walk this path of recession again.’’

$250m grant for Nigerian youths yet to be accessed —World Bank - VANGUARD

NOVEMBER 07, 2017

THE World Bank said Nigeria had so far accessed less than $50 million of the $300 million earmarked by the bank for youth empowerment and other social works in the country.

The World Bank’s Nigeria Lead Social Protection Specialist, Mr Foluso Okunmadewa, said this, yesterday, in Abuja at the Youth Employment and Social Support Operation, YESSO, Midterm Review Policy Level meeting. wold bank Okunmadewa said the bank had in 2013, earmarked the fund to support federal and state governments’ efforts to improve the lives of the poor and vulnerable in the society.

He said of recent, the YESSO programme, which had four components, had been doing badly, mentioning the Social Register component, which had the ambitious aim to compile the list of the most vulnerable people and households in Nigeria, as example.

According to him, it is sad to note that only eight states have thus far keyed into the programme. He said: “The support operation is in its fourth year of implementation and currently active in 13 states of the federation, including the North-East and coordinated at the federal level, also with the NDE. “The operation is expected to close in mid 2020 and the performance today is not impressive. Less than $50 million, which is about 13 per cent of the assistance has been disbursed.

“The single register component of the operation, which is quite innovative and has been adopted by the Federal Government for its Cash Transfer programme, is however, recording very slow process.

“Only a small fraction of the poor has been identified and registered even in participating states. “Also, the intervention component of the operation, which targets grants transfer for internally displaced people and vulnerable in the North East, is performing very poorly.”

Okunmadewa said to encourage more states to participate in the YESSO programme, the World Bank had cut the ration of the required counterpart funding between states and the Federal Government from 50/50 to 90/10.

This, according to him, means that for every one Naira the Nigerian government, whether state or federal government invests into youth empowerment, the World Bank will provide nine Naira for it. Also, National Coordinator of YESSO, David Adejo, urged the states to take advantage of the reduction in counterpart funding by the World Bank to invest in avenues that would lead to youth employments in their respective states.

“Some states had a public workfare, but when the YESSO started, they pulled back and were no longer funding these projects, thinking that the World Bank would do it alone.

Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/11/250m-grant-nigerian-youths-yet-accessed-world-bank/

Bank speaks on scheme reportedly assisting Nigerians financially - DAILY POST

NOVEMBER 07, 2017

By  

The World Bank has denied report making the rounds online that it is giving out money to individuals to do business.

In a statement released in Abuja on Monday by Olufunke Olufon, World Bank warned Nigerians to be wary of fraudsters parading as its representatives and soliciting fees to enlist Nigerians in a fake scheme.

Olufon, spokesperson of the bank in Nigeria, disclosed that the group has been going about demanding registration fees of about N1000 from unsuspecting Nigerians in communities to be enlisted in the scheme.

The statement readS: “Several correspondences targeting innocent citizens are being circulated falsely claiming that the World Bank is giving out money to individuals to do business and demanding processing fees of N1000 from prospective awardees.

“Please note that: The World Bank is not behind this multi-purpose scheme. The World Bank does not request for personal financial information for applicants to its programmes.”

“Members of the public are advised to verify any information regarding any World Bank-assisted programmes purportedly offered by any individual or groups on its website.”

Ms. Olufon added that the World Bank would not be held responsible for any refunds of fees solicited by fraudsters.

UPDATE 1-Nigeria raises 100 bln naira in treasury bills - REUTERS

NOVEMBER 01, 2017

LAGOS, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Nigeria raised 100.84 billion naira ($320.64 million) at a treasury bill auction on Wednesday as traders locked in yields in anticipation of higher liquidity from repayments.

The central bank sold 74.76 billion naira of one-year debt at a rate of 15.53 percent, slightly lower than the previous auction, traders said. It had initially offered to sell 54.35 billion naira in that maturity.

Traders said the bank also sold 12.98 billion naira of six month bills and 13.09 billion naira of 91-day paper at 13.1 percent, unchanged from the last auction.

Traders said around 420 billion naira in open market bills was expected to hit the banking system on Thursday, which spurred buying at the auction.

Nigeria’s central bank issues treasury bills regularly to help lenders manage their liquidity, curb rising inflation and provide naira to help the government fund its budget. ($1 = 314.5000 naira) (Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Buhari may present 2018 budget on Tuesday - BUHARI

OCTOBER 25, 2017

Baring last minute changes, there are indications that President Muhammadu Buhari may present the 2018 budget before the National Assembly.

BusinessDay sources at the Presidential Villa, said the budget which is ready for presentation was being delayed because the Federal Executive Council was yet to approve it.

“We stand by our plans to present the budget this October. So, as soon as it is approved, we will notify the National Assembly that we are ready for presentation,” a high profile source said.

Our source also believe that the Mid Term Economic Framework 2018-2020, ( MTEF) recently forwarded to the National Assembly will be approved before the budget presentation.

This is just as the budget has been listed as the only item for discussion at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting fixed for tomorrow, Thursday.

Presidency had taken to its Twitter handle Wednesday to announce the postponement of the regular weekly FEC meeting from Wednesday to Thursday

“@NGRPresident: Federal Executive Council (FEC) Meeting will hold tomorrow, Thursday Oct 26. Agenda is #Budget2018, which is currently being finalized.” according to the statement on twitter, Wednesday.

Details soon.

BY  

Banks to challenge FG on BVN order - BUSINESSDAY

OCTOBER 25, 2017

There are indications that deposit money banks will challenge the order by the Federal Government seeking to confiscate all funds in accounts without Bank Verification Number or BVN.
This follows the outcome of the meeting with legal advisers of banks yesterday Tuesday and that of banks chief executives on Monday at the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) in Lagos.
A source familiar with the outcome of the meeting says that while the banks do not want to be confrontational about this, the issue is beyond corruption as being touted by the FG.
It will be recalled that Justice Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of on October 17 obtained an order from Federal High Court judge Nnamdi Dimgba, seeking to confiscate all funds in accounts without BVN to the Federal Government. The order was obtained against 19 banks in the country with the Central Bank of Nigeria also included as a defendant in the case. The banks have been given an ultimatum of 14 days to advertise accounts without BVN in a national newspaper, during which time, the owners of such accounts are expected to show cause why the money should not be forfeited.
Stakeholders argue that there are many reasons for not having a BVN which include cases of death of an account holder where the probate process is still ongoing or many Nigerians that are outside the country.
They see no legal basis for such sweeping order, saying that if FG wants to enforce such an order, it should have been done by an Act of the National Assembly.
Johnson Chukwu, managing director/CEO, Cowry Asset Management limited told BusinessDay by phone that banks have strong basis to contest the order particularly on the aspect that FG gave a timeline for banks to advertise accounts without BVN in a national newspaper, during which time, the owners of such accounts are expected to show cause why the money should not be forfeited.
Chukwu said there is no provision of such in the Money Laundry Act, adding that the Act does not allow forfeiture of funds for reasons of not having a complete documentation.
He said if the banks are willing to challenge the order, it is good but was concerned that those who may lose their funds may be unable to challenge the order directly because they don’t have the capacity to do so or for other reasons.
The banks CEOs agreed to reach the Attorney General of the federation as well as others in the executive to explain to them the far reaching implications of the order, especially since it also affects foreign investors with funds in Nigeria.
“The economy may shrink again if the federal government goes ahead to seize the funds in the non – BVN linked accounts as the magnitude of the numbers involved is huge .The extent of shrinkage will depend on the volume and whether these accounts were active or dormant in spite of the regulation,” Bolade Agbola, Analyst and CEO of LAM Agro Consult Limited said in an emailed response to BusinessDay.
Ayodeji Ebo, managing director, Afrinvest Securities limited told BusinessDay by phone that the banks should engage with the Federal Government on the issue.
However, Ebo said it may be good for banks to get an injunction to halt the order and engage until agreement is reached.
Data obtained by BusinessDay from Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Limited (NIBSS) shows that a total of 46 million bank accounts are yet to be linked to BVN as at February 2017, the latest period for which data is available. Total bank accounts in the banking system were 97.57 million as at February 2017 while total accounts linked with BVN stood at 51.72 million, leaving a total of 46 million accounts yet to be linked with BVN, introduced in February 2014 to ensure that all bank accounts have the biometric identification of their owners.
“Expropriating people’s money can give the wrong impression especially for an emerging market like Nigeria,” said the banking source.
“The Government can choose to restrict access to non BVN accounts if it is concerned about money laundering but not seize funds in said accounts, to avoid hurting innocent people.”

 

BY  HOPE MOSES-ASHIKE

Investors urged to buy into opportunities in blue economy - BUSINESSDAY

OCTOBER 25, 2017

Dakuku Peterside, director general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has called on Nigerian investors to key into the opportunities in the nation’s blue economy, which is now the world’s fastest growing sector that has enormous potentials.

Peterside, who made this appeal at the just concluded 23rd Nigerian Economic summit (NESG) themed “Opportunities, Productivity and Employment: Actualizing the Economy Recovery and Growth Plan,” said that the length of the nation’s coastline and the attendant volume of maritime trade provide Nigeria an advantage as a developing nation.

However, he stated, that stakeholders must actively participate in the sector in order to reap its benefits.

“Developing the blue economy is paramount across the globe now, and the public and private sectors have to collaborate to sustainably harness the potentials of our maritime sector for the benefit of the Nigerian economy especially in the wake of the Federal Government’s economic diversification drive,” he said.

The NIMASA boss, who was quoted in a statement signed by Isichei Osamgbi, head, Corporate Communications of the NIMASA, also said that it was high time Nigerians begun to tap into the opportunities embedded in the maritime  sector, adding that economies of countries like Singapore, Ukraine and South Korea thrives on the activities of their maritime sectors.

Peterside, however, pointed out that an improved maintenance culture, adequate data management and statistics as well as articulated actions from stakeholders backed up with political will, can make Nigeria a leading light in the comity of maritime nations.

Peterside further advocated for synergy among stakeholders, stating that NIMASA with the support of the Federal Government is working assiduously to ensure that Nigerians reap the benefits that are bound in the sector.

He also said that the newly approved maritime security architecture will effectively reduce piracy and other related sea crimes to ensure safety of shipping.

The Nigerian Economic summit serves as a platform where stakeholders from both public and private sectors can converge to chart a way forward for the development of the Nigerian economy.

 

BY  Uzoamaka Anagor-Ewuzie

PASSPORTS FOR CASH: Citizens of anywhere - THE ECONOMIST

OCTOBER 24, 2017

Globalisation has turned citizenship into a commodity. Matthew Valencia went shopping for a new passport and found bargains to be had

BY MATTHEW VALENCIA 

 

Jalal is an Iraqi telecoms executive with fluent English and a Harvard degree. His wife is a surgeon. Well-off by any standards, they have always loved to travel, and have a particular fondness for Lake Como in Italy. But their Iraqi citizenship has often caused them visa problems. So, a few years ago, Jalal (not his real name) and his wife applied to become nationals of a second country: Antigua. After ten months of form-filling and “due diligence” (background checks and the like), they ploughed several hundred thousand dollars into property and a development fund on the Caribbean island, and in return got passports which entitle them to visa-free travel to 130 countries, including most of Europe. They send the citizenship consultant who helped them become Iraqi-Antiguans a card whenever they are in Como, to show their continued gratitude.

Francesco Corallo went one better in the Caribbean, for very different reasons. An Italian businessman on an Interpol most-wanted list, he bought himself a diplomatic passport from Dominica and tried to claim diplomatic immunity on the grounds of being the island’s permanent representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. He is now in custody in St Maarten, a tiny Dutch territory in the Caribbean, facing extradition to Italy on charges of tax evasion and bribing politicians.

One a meritorious executive looking to overcome travel barriers erected with others in mind, the other a wanted man: both are customers of the passports-for-cash business. Providing citizenship or residence permits in return for a financial contribution generally gets a bad press for offering a perceived back door to criminals, but, like offshore finance, it spans a wide ethical spectrum. How much is black and how much white is anyone’s guess because data are patchy. Peter Vincent of Borderpol, a border agents’ association, estimates that perhaps 1% of the industry’s clients are human-rights violators, money-launderers or other fugitives from justice, and the other 99% mostly jet-setters or “doomsday preppers” (from countries that are politically unstable or threatened by climate change).

 

Christian Kälin, chairman of Henley & Partners, a consultancy, estimates that several thousand people spend a combined $2bn or more a year on adding a passport or residence permit to their collection. The largest sources of custom are China, Russia and the Middle East. Demand is rising fast, says Eric Major, who helped pioneer the industry while at HSBC, a bank. The number of clients from emerging markets whose net worth ranges from $1m-100m is growing at 15-20% a year, he reckons; for them, a few hundred thousand dollars is a bargain for the perks bestowed by an extra nationality. Instability is boosting demand: more South Africans are looking for second passports, for instance, because the number of visa-free destinations they enjoy with their own has shrunk under the prickly government of Jacob Zuma. So is terrorism: citizens of some rich countries (especially America) want a different passport when travelling or working overseas.

Supply has risen to meet this demand. Between 30 and 40 countries have active economic-citizenship or residence programmes, says Kälin, and another 60 have provisions for one in law. Some demand a straight cash donation, others investment in government bonds or the purchase of property. Some take a longer-term view of the potential economic benefits, offering passports to entrepreneurs who will set up a local company and create a minimum number of jobs. The required investment ranges from upwards of $10,000 (Thai residence, for instance) to more than $10m (fast-track residence in Britain). In some countries the original investment can be withdrawn after several years.

Caribbean nations are particularly accommodating. The islands’ colonial past means that they tend to have wide visa-free access; their small size means that rich countries haven’t felt the need to restrict their citizens’ access; their poverty means they need the cash. St Kitts and Nevis helped pioneer the business over a decade ago, after the removal of European subsidies clobbered its sugar industry. It has since sold more than 10,000 passports at $250,000 or more a time – a sweet earner for a pair of islands with 55,000 people and GDP of $1bn. Neighbouring Dominica pumps out passports at an estimated rate of around 2,000 a year for as little as $100,000 a time. Vince Henderson, Dominica’s UN ambassador, described the scheme as a “lifeline” after the island was hit by Tropical Storm Erika in 2015. In 2017, $148m of the country’s budget of $340m will be raised by the citizenship-by-investment programme. Antigua’s prime minister has said its passports-for-cash programme helped it avoid defaulting on its debt. Pacific islands are also touting for business in the hope of patching up weather-beaten public finances. Vanuatu even throws in goodies with its passports, including a free shell company and bank account.

The industry’s biggest leap forward was the entry into the game in recent years of European Union countries, notably Malta and Cyprus. Cyprus advertises “EU citizenship within a few months”, with all the perks, including Europe-wide health care, and with no requirement to live on the island or pass history or language-proficiency tests. The tax benefits are alluring, too. The price is fairly steep: €2m, to be invested in securities or property. The programme explains most of the Russian- and Chinese-owned villas popping up across the island.

Malta is cheaper: at least €650,000, with another €25,000 per spouse or child. But it is also more rigorous. The vetting process takes a year or more, and around a third of applications are said to be rejected. A single contribution can exceed what the average Maltese pays in income tax over a lifetime. The government has approved more than 1,400 applications. The programme limit (in theory) is 1,800.

Around half a dozen other countries are looking to get in on the act. Having failed to get a programme off the ground a few years ago, Montenegro – which could join the EU by 2022 – has just relaunched it. St Lucia recently joined the fray, offering a passport and visa-free travel in return for various investment opportunities. But the industry is troubled by its “optics”. Iranian sanctions-busters have been caught with St Kitts passports in their pockets; Jho Low, a suspect in the huge corruption scandal around 1MDB, a Malaysian fund, had one too, say American investigators. “Processing more than a few hundred a year in such small, resource-constrained countries is sure to result in slippage in terms of who you accept,” says a consultant familiar with the Dominica programme. The OECD has identified citizenship-for-sale schemes as a possible loophole in the fight against international tax evasion. Anti-corruption officials worry they may foster graft, particularly in micro-states, where oversight of officials running schemes is typically flimsy.

St Kitts is trying to regain credibility. Under international pressure, the government recalled thousands of passports and issued new, more detailed ones that made it harder to conceal the holder’s identity. That drastic action was prompted by Canada’s decision to rescind visa-free travel for Kittitians and Nevisians (it has since withdrawn the privilege from Antigua, too). Keen to show it is changing its ways, St Kitts hired an international risk-management firm to audit its programme.

Small-island schemes are not alone in attracting the wrong sort of headlines. Rich countries tend to offer residency instead of (or as a first step to) citizenship. The largest of those, America’s EB-5 programme, has a chequered history. It gives several thousand foreigners a year the right to live and work in the country if they invest $1m – or half as much in a “targeted” high-unemployment zone – and create at least ten jobs. Several projects have been exposed as frauds. The use of EB-5 by Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, to lure Chinese investors into his family’s development projects has also tainted the programme. Some senators want it scrapped. Congress is due to decide soon whether to extend it. Rich countries are keen to draw a sharp line between themselves and overt citizenship-sellers, but “the difference is increasingly one of degree”, says Jason Sharman, a professor of international relations at Cambridge University: since the global financial crisis, half of all OECD countries have started selling some sort of visa, residency or citizenship permit. In Britain, the more the investor shells out (up to a maximum of £10m), the faster the track.

In the middle of a late-afternoon interview in a suite next to the conference hall of the Grand Kempinski Hotel, Geneva, Christian Kälin stopped to order some bananas. Back-to-back meetings, he explained, meant he had had no time to eat. When in London, he spends much of the time at the same table in a dark corner of the restaurant at Claridges, a swanky hotel, hosting one client or contact after another.

As the passport industry has grown, it has gone upmarket. It used to be dominated by small firms hawking their wares through classified ads in business magazines or developers selling beach houses with residence rights attached. These days it is part of the business of serving “high net-worth individuals”. Providers range from international consultancies such as Henley, Kälin’s company, to banks with big private-wealth operations, including UBS as well as HSBC. Canadian banks are active too, having cut their teeth at home: Canada was an early seller of residence, inspired by a scheme in Quebec, popular with Asians and Iranians, that helped lift the province’s economy in the 1980s and 1990s.

More recent entrants include big accounting firms, such as KPMG and BDO, and law firms. Mischcon de Reya, a high-end London law firm, offers a suite of “VIP”-branded services, including “VIP Student”, and a “holistic service” for those looking actually to move with their new residence rights, “to ensure a seamless transition to the UK for you and your children”. This includes a concierge service for everything from buying school uniforms to decorating a new property.

Kälin cut his teeth selling residence in various Swiss cantons and Canada, along with a smattering of Austrian passports. His big break was persuading St Kitts to allow Henley to rewrite its citizenship laws and design and market its passport programme. Several struggling Caribbean economies followed – including Grenada as well as Antigua and Dominica. Henley picks up fees for advising both private clients on citizenship planning and governments on setting up their programmes. In some cases, it gets a cut of each successful application. (The firm does not disclose revenues.) “If you operate globally, you have to have more than one passport,” Kälin says, but declines to reveal how many passports he holds himself.

As it goes upmarket, the industry is rebranding and euphemising. In 2014 some of the big firms formed a trade association, the Investment Migration Council (IMC), which holds events and publishes weighty reports designed to increase credibility in the eyes of regulators and the media. It insists it is not in the “passports for sale” business, but in “CBI” (for “citizenship-by-investment”) or, even more legitimate-sounding, “investor migration”. Consultants talk of “facilitating global talent mobility”. Last year the IMC joined Transparency International, an anti-corruption group, to produce a critical report on Hungary’s residence-for-cash programme, whose benefits seem to have gone to intermediaries rather than the taxpayer. Kälin says the IMC is “about setting standards. It’s like oil: do we want to be Norway or Nigeria?” Critics say he uses the association to plug countries whose programmes Henley helped craft and bash those it didn’t. He denies this.

Some of the rebranding effort has gone into developing an intellectual justification for selling passports. Kälin argues that ideas about what forms the basis of citizenship have constantly evolved. To view it as being purely about ius soli (“right of the soil”, ie, for those born in the territory) or ius sanguinis (a blood link) is outdated. Kristin Surak, a migration specialist at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, notes that the European Union Observatory on Democracy’s citizenship database lists 27 grounds for acquiring citizenship. Why shouldn’t ius pecuniae be among them? It has been in the past: German and Italian merchants who contributed to empire-building were granted British citizenship in the 18th century.    

The most energetic and eloquent proponent of this line of argument is Dimitry Kochenov, a constitutional-law expert at Groningen University who works closely with Kälin’s firm, for instance on a global quality-of-citizenship index. A tousle-haired Russian known for his quick wit, bow ties and garish trousers. Kochenov is a “rock star” of the citizenship-by-investment world, says Stéphanie Laulhé Shaelou, a fellow academic.

At a recent IMC conference in Geneva, Kochenov’s zeal was unmistakable as he chaired the opening session. “We are piercing tiny holes in the fences erected by nation states,” he proclaimed. “Our industry’s simple goal is to re-unite the world, and we should be proud to profit from it…We help people cross barriers and contribute to the societies of their choice.” He worries that populism and nationalism are raising those barriers. Brexit and Donald Trump’s ban on travellers from several Muslim-majority countries are the current bêtes noires of the passport-selling fraternity.

Kochenov did not go into the causes of the rise of nationalism, but some of them were sitting in the conference hall of the five-star Grand Kempinski, applauding his speech. Those expensively suited purveyors of passports to plutocrats embody – and encourage – the footloose globalism that has helped spark a nationalist backlash. In the eyes of many less fortunate souls, they enable the global elite to slide unimpeded between countries, moving on when things get tricky, taking what they can get and often giving nothing of themselves except money in return. The industry has to wrestle with the widely held view that citizenship is not purely transactional but has an important cultural and emotional component too. The idea that it can be bought sits uncomfortably with the belief that a sense of belonging matters. While people are keen on foreigners’ cash if it is likely to help the nation’s bills or fuel its economic growth, they feel uneasy about their government selling citizenship in the same way as they feel queasy about offering it to a foreign athlete with no connection to the country, solely to boost its medal count in the Olympics.

On this view, citizenship shouldn’t just be a passport: it should be a commitment as well, carrying not only rights but also responsibilities. The typical passport buyer is unlikely to settle, will care little about her new country’s politics and will have no interest in defending its values. Unless her new citizenship is American – the United States is particularly hot on extracting taxes from all its citizens – she may well pay her new nation no taxes. The normal means of acquiring citizenship acknowledges that there is a cultural component: naturalisation typically takes years and requires an applicant to establish a real connection to their new country. An industry whose main purpose is to allow people to skip those queues does not.

The citizenship brokers counter that hostility towards flogging passports is born of reflex nationalism; some people just can’t abide the concept of global citizenship. Buying a short cut to citizenship, they argue, is no different to splashing out for speedy boarding or a first-class bed on a plane – and more socially useful, since it shovels cash towards poor countries. Why shouldn’t a passport be just another commodity, if neither the government issuing it nor those already carrying it have no problem with that?

These complex sentiments about nationality are making themselves felt through tighter regulation. The European Commission says it will look more closely at passport-selling. It blessed the Maltese and Cypriot schemes, but with reservations. Malta won approval after promising to ensure applicants would be forced to establish a “genuine connection” with the island. But the definition is elastic. Kim Marsh, a former police investigator now with Exiger Diligence, a compliance firm, points to rising public scrutiny of how businesses deal with “politically exposed persons” and other rich but potentially disreputable clients. He predicts that citizenship consultancies will be forced over time to “become reporting agencies, as banks have with tax”.

Tighter regulation is hitting Chinese demand. Although China does not allow its citizens second passports – those who buy them have to be discreet, for instance by keeping their other passport in a safe-deposit box in Hong Kong – the Chinese are big buyers of most schemes. They snap up around 80% of America’s EB-5 permits. But there are signs demand is softening, says Larry Wang of Well Trend, one of the largest of China’s 1,000 or so legal immigration consultancies (there are perhaps ten times as many without licences). Rising living standards at home are part of the explanation, as are tighter currency controls.

Yet hostility to the industry is not necessarily improving outcomes for the countries involved. It may be reducing the benefits to the sellers. One reason for schemes involving investment rather than cash is that a straight sale “lays bare that it’s a naked transaction”, says Madeleine Sumption of the Migration Observatory at Oxford University. But a passport-for-cash deal is normally better for the country that is issuing the passports: unlike EB-5-style investments, the government can be sure the money is really there and that it won’t be withdrawn later.

For the industry, though, the prospects are good. Kochenov is encouraged by the spread in Europe, the Gulf and elsewhere of “inter-citizenship”, where citizenship of one country allows free movement across a larger bloc. A passport which gives access to that bloc is correspondingly more valuable: Malta’s status as an EU member state, for instance, enhances the appeal of citizenship. Kälin reckons that “we’re part of a wider trend in our favour.” He’s probably right. When there is trouble in the world, there will be demand for extra passports; where there is strain on government finances, there will be supply. Neither looks like drying up.

Which passport offers the best perks? Read our buyer’s guide

Matthew Valenciais special assignments editor for The Economist

PASSPORTS FOR CASH: Which passport offers the best perks? - THE ECONOMIST

OCTOBER 24, 2017

Want to buy yourself a more desirable nationality? There are bargains to be had

BY  MATTHEW VALENCIA 

In the October & November issue of 1843Matthew Valencia exploreshow globalisation has turned citizenship into a commodity. Here, he weighs up the pros and cons of different passports.

SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS
OPTION 1: Invest $400,000 in real estate, which must be held for five years.
OPTION 2: Pay $250,000 into the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation.
FEES: $57,500 for main applicant, $25,000 for each dependant.
BENEFIT: Citizenship; visa-free access to 132 countries; no residency requirement.
DISADVANTAGE: Seen as shady by some countries; bad publicity led Canada to withdraw visa-free access.

DOMINICA
OPTION 1: Invest $100,000 in Economic Diversification Fund, plus additional $75,000 for spouse, $25,000 for up to two children.
OPTION 2: Invest $200,000 in real estate. Property can be sold after three years if the intended buyer is a citizenship-by-investment applicant. Applicant must turn up for interview. Fees: $50,000 for main applicant, $25,000 for spouse.
BENEFITS: Citizenship; visa-free access to 91 countries; quick processing (3-6 months); no residency requirement; no mandatory interview; no physical residence requirement.
DISADVANTAGES: Poor reputation, though it claims to have tightened up vetting process; applicant must swear oath of allegiance.

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
OPTION 1: $400,000 invested in an approved real-estate project.
OPTION 2: $250,000 in National Development Fund.
OPTION 3: $1.5m invested in a business.
FEES: $50,000 each for main applicant, spouse and any dependant over 18; $25,000 for dependants under 18.
BENEFIT: Citizenship; visa-free access to 132 countries.
DISADVANTAGE: Weather risks for property buyers.

SAINT LUCIA
OPTION 1: Invest $200,000 in the Saint Lucia National Economic Fund.
OPTION 2: $500,000 in government bonds. Investment must be held for at least five years.
OPTION 3: $300,000 in an approved real estate. Must be held for at least five years.
OPTION 4: $3.5m in a new business that creates at least three jobs. Applicants must have a net worth of $300,000.
BENEFIT: Citizenship; visa-free access to more than 100 countries
DISADVANTAGE: As above.

UNITED STATES
EB-5 VISA: $1m investment in a business, or $500,000 in a high-unemployment or rural area. Company must create or preserve at least ten full-time jobs.
BENEFITS: Residency; access to US citizenship after five years.
DISADVANTAGES: Residency in the US required, especially during first two years; citizenship brings tax headaches, risk of being targeted by terrorists.

QUEBEC
OPTION 1: C$2m in a risky investment for 15 years. Applicants must be worth C$10m.
OPTION 2: C$800,000 in a passive investment for five years. Applicants must be worth C$1.6m.  
BENEFIT: Access to citizenship after four years.
DISADVANTAGE: Must speak English or French.

 

AUSTRALIA
OPTION 1: Invest A$1.5m in a designated investment.
OPTION 2: For retirees aged 55-plus with A$750,000 of assets, an income of A$65,000 a year and no dependants (other than a partner). Must make a designated investment of A$750,000.
BENEFIT: Access to citizenship after four years
DISADVANTAGE: Other Australians will expect you to understand the rules of cricket.

MALTA 
CITIZENSHIP: Invest €350,000 in property, €150,000 in government-approved financial instruments and donate €650,000 to the National Development and Social Fund.
RESIDENCE OPTION 1: Invest €320,000 in property and €250,000 in government bonds. Fee of €30,000.
RESIDENCE OPTION 2: Invest €275,000 in property and pay €15,000 annually. Annual income of €100,000 or possession of capital of €500,000 required.
BENEFIT: Citizenship; visa-free access to 168 countries.
DISADVANTAGE: Successful applicants must show maintain a “genuine connection” to the country (though policing of this is not stringent).

CYPRUS
CITIZENSHIP: Investment of €2m during the three years preceding the date of the application; must retain the said investments for at least three years from date of the naturalisation.
RESIDENCE: Purchase property of at least €300,000 with evidence of a secured annual income of at least €30,000 deriving from abroad.
BENEFITS: Citizenship; visa-free access to 159 countries; dual citizenship allowed.
DISADVANTAGES: Must visit Cyprus at least once every two years.

BRITAIN
OPTION 1: Invest £2m to live in Britain for a maximum of three years. £5m gets you citizenship after three years, £10m after two years.
BENEFITS: Access to citizenship
DISADVANTAGES: Must spend at least 50% of their time in the country.

PORTUGAL
OPTION 1: Invest €500,000 in property, or €350,000 in research, or €250,000 in the arts, or €500,000 in venture capital, or create a minimum of ten jobs.
BENEFITS: Residency with a stay of only seven days in the first year; access to citizenship after five years; the right to free entry to the 26 Schengen countries; includes immediate family members
DISADVANTAGES: The cuisine

RUSSIA
OPTION 1: Start a business in Russia and once profits exceed 10m roubles.
OPTION 2: Invest 10m roubles in a business worth 100m roubles, and pay taxes of at least 6m roubles a year for three years.
BENEFITS: Citizenship
DISADVANTAGES: Two-to-four-week stay in Russia during processing required.

Sources: Investment Migration Council, The Economist

Matthew Valenciais special assignments editor for The Economist

NAIRA AVERAGES N366/$1 OVER 3 MONTHS AS NIGERIA'S FOREIGN RESERVES EXCEED $32bn - abokiFX

OCTOBER 03, 2017

  • abokiFX research shows that naira has traded at an average of N366/$1 in the parallel market since July 2017.
  • Nigeria's foreign reserves have risen at an average of $600m per month from July 2017 to September 2017.
  • Further analysis of the growth in foreign reserves reveal that if the price of crude oil falls below $50 per barrel, the buffer in the foreign reserves would absorb the shortfall and keep the naira steady at an average of N366/$1 for the next three months.
  • abokiFX believes the average rate of N366/$1 in the parallel market reveals that a market equilibrium has been reached and is considered reasonable by the CBN, as regular CBN interventions have kept the rate within N366/$1 average.
  • The chart above shows the relationship between the foreign reserves and the parallel market rates from January 2017 to September 2017.

The Trouble With Oil Pipelines in Nigeria - COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATION

SEPTEMBER 14, 2017

An oil pipeline spews oil after a leak in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 26, 2012. Thousands of people in Nigeria engage in a practice known locally as 'oil bunkering'—hacking into pipelines to steal crude then refining it or selling it abroad. Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters

 

 

 

 

Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies

On Wednesday in Abuja, the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) stated that in 2016, pipeline vandalism resulted in roughly 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) being “deferred.” Accordingly, production was 1.3 million bpd rather than the projected 2.2 million bpd, costing the country about $13.3 billion in revenue (at an average price of $52 per barrel). While Nigerian statistics can be problematic, those used by the managing director are likely to be the best available. Oil provides more than 70 percent of the revenue of Nigeria’s government at all levels (this figure has been as high as 90 percent in the past), and more than 90 percent of its foreign exchange. At a time when international oil prices were relatively low and the country was in recession, the fall in oil production due to pipeline vandalism is especially serious.

 

The “deferred” 700,000 bpd could not be brought to market; much or most of it remained in the ground or in storage facilities. However, some pipelines are breeched in order to steal the oil. Breeched pipelines inevitably result in oil spills, further polluting the environment and damaging the livelihoods of people nearby. Further, Nigerian oil is sweet and light, requiring little refining to produce gasoline, so that illegal mom-and-pop shops can refine the stolen oil into a usable product. Stolen oil is also sold on the international market. There has long been suspicion that political and military personalities have been involved in oil theft. However, the managing director appeared to be discussing pipeline vandalism only, not the larger issue of oil theft. 

Oil theft and pipeline vandalism is an old song in the Niger delta, where there is usually political and social unrest. The NNPC managing director outlined a proposed response to the current situation that includes technical steps (such as burying the pipelines deeper into the ground), stricter law enforcement, but also addressing the political and social drivers of Delta unrest. The latter in particular is a tall order, which no previous government has been able to fill except for relatively short periods of time. Many ‘solutions’ amount to buying off militants that would otherwise steal oil or damage infrastructure. A long term solution to oil theft and pipeline vandalism clearly requires both technological innovation and better law enforcement, but, above all, it must address the deep-seated popular grievances of the region.   

 

The Trouble With Oil Pipelines in Nigeria - COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATION

SEPTEMBER 14, 2017

An oil pipeline spews oil after a leak in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 26, 2012. Thousands of people in Nigeria engage in a practice known locally as 'oil bunkering'—hacking into pipelines to steal crude then refining it or selling it abroad. Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters

 

 

 

 

Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies

On Wednesday in Abuja, the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) stated that in 2016, pipeline vandalism resulted in roughly 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) being “deferred.” Accordingly, production was 1.3 million bpd rather than the projected 2.2 million bpd, costing the country about $13.3 billion in revenue (at an average price of $52 per barrel). While Nigerian statistics can be problematic, those used by the managing director are likely to be the best available. Oil provides more than 70 percent of the revenue of Nigeria’s government at all levels (this figure has been as high as 90 percent in the past), and more than 90 percent of its foreign exchange. At a time when international oil prices were relatively low and the country was in recession, the fall in oil production due to pipeline vandalism is especially serious.

 

The “deferred” 700,000 bpd could not be brought to market; much or most of it remained in the ground or in storage facilities. However, some pipelines are breeched in order to steal the oil. Breeched pipelines inevitably result in oil spills, further polluting the environment and damaging the livelihoods of people nearby. Further, Nigerian oil is sweet and light, requiring little refining to produce gasoline, so that illegal mom-and-pop shops can refine the stolen oil into a usable product. Stolen oil is also sold on the international market. There has long been suspicion that political and military personalities have been involved in oil theft. However, the managing director appeared to be discussing pipeline vandalism only, not the larger issue of oil theft. 

Oil theft and pipeline vandalism is an old song in the Niger delta, where there is usually political and social unrest. The NNPC managing director outlined a proposed response to the current situation that includes technical steps (such as burying the pipelines deeper into the ground), stricter law enforcement, but also addressing the political and social drivers of Delta unrest. The latter in particular is a tall order, which no previous government has been able to fill except for relatively short periods of time. Many ‘solutions’ amount to buying off militants that would otherwise steal oil or damage infrastructure. A long term solution to oil theft and pipeline vandalism clearly requires both technological innovation and better law enforcement, but, above all, it must address the deep-seated popular grievances of the region.   

 

‘Opportunities abound in foreign institutions for Nigerian students’ - NIGERIA TRIBUNE

SEPTEMBER 14, 2017

The current state of Nigeria’s tertiary education sector has been a serious concern to many stakeholders in the country; but the managing director, Online Dynamics, Mr Wale Michael, in this interview with KEHINDE ADIO, says Nigerian students can take advantage of several opportunities overseas. Excerpt:

HOW would you assess the state of tertiary institutions in Nigeria today?

It’s not good enough. Education in Nigeria, just like any other sector in the country, is still struggling to survive. It is a known fact that incessant strikes by the various university unions have become a common phenomenon in the education sector without any lasting solution in sight yet. A student who stays at home for   five months doing nothing, what do you expect from such a student? There is a lot to be done in the sector. Having said that, it is not as if efforts have not been put in place to reengineer or resuscitate Nigerian educational system, but we are still very far from international educational standard.

Can you compare the situation here with what obtains in other countries?

 

Nigeria is not on the same page with other foreign countries as far as education development is concerned. For instance, a recent development in the tertiary admission process in Nigeria took many people aback when government’s admission pass mark was put at 30 per cent. Why? What will be the end products of these students after graduation? If a student with 30 per cent score is given an admission into an institution, what it means is that he or she has passed the examination. So, 30 per cent represents our pass mark. It means that these students will have the impression that 30 per cent is the bench mark for academic success. Then students will pass out as 30 per cent graduates, which is below average. Government, education policy makers and allied education agencies will have to review our education standard.

When you look at other countries like Canada, Ukraine or even South Africa, things are different over there. For instance, Ukraine is regarded as the best country for medical training. Education in all those countries is practical-based. Do you know that Nigerian university graduates cannot stand with graduates of high school in those advanced countries in the labour market? Education must translate to productivity. Education must affect the market place. If researches and findings in the Nigerian universities remain on the library shelves, education has not served its purposes and growth and development in Nigeria will remain elusive.

On this note, it is advisable for Nigerian students to consider foreign universities as alternatives to get better education for our nation building.

Is there any way your office can assist Nigerian students to have access to these foreign universities?

Yes. We have been doing that for not less than 10 years through our Visa process initiative education to study in USA, Canada, Ukraine, Cyprus, Malaysia, Bellarus, Georgia and South Africa for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. The process is ongoing. On-Line Dynamics will give Nigerian students information on scholarship opportunities and best foreign fee-avoidable universities across the globe.

Nigeria cocoa output seen rebounding in 2017/18 - REUTERS

SEPTEMBER 14, 2017

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LAGOS, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Nigeria should see a bumper cocoa harvest in the coming season as late rains have helped boost pod production, the head of the cocoa association said on Thursday.

Sayina Riman, president of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN), expects output for the new season which starts in October to hit between 300,000 tonnes and 320,000 tonnes, up sharply from the season just ended which was blighted by poor weather.

The cocoa season in Nigeria, the world’s fourth biggest producer, runs from October to September, with an October-to-February main crop and a smaller light or mid-crop that begins in April or May and runs through September.

The 2016/17 season started at a slow pace after drought cut the mid-crop harvest by 40 percent. Output for that season was estimated to reach 260,000 tonnes, Riman said, lower than a revised forecast of 280,000 tonnes and down from 340,000 tonnes forecast at the start of the season.

“We have late rains which has affected production. We are hoping that from the first week of October, we should be talking of increased yield,” Riman told Reuters.

The International Cocoa Organization (ICCO), however, gives much lower estimates of Nigerian cocoa output. It forecast last season’s production at 220,000 tonnes.

Riman did not give a reason for the discrepancy. Nigerian government production figures are also significantly higher than ICCO estimates.

“We are looking at new plantations ... rehabilitation of old farms, the level of youth coming into farming and the recovery rate of abandoned farms,” he said by phone.

Farmers across Nigeria’s main growing regions were optimistic as some had used the drought to prepare their farms, Riman said, but some have been stuck with about two-thirds of their produce due to the glut in the world market.

World cocoa prices have declined by a third in the last year amid a global supply glut after record production from top growers Ivory Coast and Ghana. ICCO predicts a global surplus of 371,000 tonnes for 2016/17.

Demand for the London September contract has been dampened by the prospect of receiving cocoa from Nigeria and Cameroon where buyers have less control over the quality of beans.

Cocoa trees need a delicate balance of rainy and dry weather. Too little rain and they wither; too much and they become susceptible to insects or fungal black pod disease. Beans can also go mouldy if small farmers are unable to dry them outside.

One farmer in the southeast region said prices dropped from a high of 1.2 million naira ($3,922) earlier this year to 400,000 naira within a six-month period.

Riman says the West African country needed to develop its local markets. “All of us in producing countries have realised that you need local consumption to make cocoa farming sustainable.” ($1 = 306.00 naira) (Editing by Susan Fenton)

EFCC Confirms Move To Extradite Alison-Madueke - SAHARA REPORTERS

SEPTEMBER 14, 2017

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The Anti-graft Agency, EFCC, on Wednesday, confirmed that plans were in place to extradite former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

 

The Anti-graft Agency, EFCC, on Wednesday, confirmed that plans were in place to extradite former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Several Nigerians have called for her extradition from the UK after different corruption allegations were leveled against her.
Properties worth billions of Naira linked to her have since been forfeited to the federal government, many permanently.

Speaking on Wednesday while addressing journalists, civic groups, and others, the EFCC acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, confirmed the moves to extradite Mrs. Alison-Madueke.
“I want you to know that nobody will go unpunished. We are even seeking to extradite Diezani, but investigations are still ongoing,” Mr. Magu said.

“We have reached a level where nobody can stop us in the fight against corruption, but we all must realize that we are all stakeholders, and this fight is for the future generation.”

He added that all Nigerians must play their roles, “because EFCC can only do its best; but we must support the agency, and the law should take its course, policies should be strengthened, and punishment must be meted out in good time.”

Mr. Magu also blamed recent separatist agitations in Nigeria on corruption.

“Every evil that is happening now is caused by corruption: agitations, strikes, whatever. Corruption has chased our good human resources out of the country. It is the duty of this generation to correct the evils caused by corruption.”

The anti-graft chief also spoke on corruption among members of his organization.

“I want you to tell us if there is corruption in the EFCC,” he said. “It makes no sense if people are fighting corruption and they are corrupt. So tell us, don’t keep quiet.”

W. Africa Crude-Angolan trade slows, Nigerian diffs fall - REUTERS

SEPTEMBER 14, 2017

LONDON, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Activity was muted on Thursday with cargoes lingering after being on offer for some two weeks, with levels falling for Nigerian grades.

ANGOLA

* About eight cargoes were still available from the October schedule, one trader said.

* Total was still showing Girassol and Nemba. Chevron was also still offering a cargo of Cabinda.

* Unipec offered a cargo of Pazflor at dated Brent plus 45 cents and a cargo of Sangos at dated Brent plus 35 cents a barrel.

NIGERIA

* About 20 October-loading cargoes were still available.

* Unipec offered a cargo of Okwori along with Ghanaian Jubilee and Congolese Djeno.

* Offers for Forcados have sunk from close to dated Brent plus $2 a barrel to just above dated Brent plus $1 a barrel, one potential buyer said.

TENDERS

* Indian refiner BPCL is looking for West African grades in a tender it is running this week. The tender closes on Friday. (Reporting by Julia Payne; editing by David Clarke) ))

 

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Nigeria has $41bn plan to diversify away from oil, Amaechi - BUSINESSDAY

AUGUST 17, 2017

Nigeria has started a $41 billion railway expansion to reduce dependence on oil and diversify its struggling economy by improving transport links to allow the movement of goods around the country and to ports.

“The plan we have now will go to every nook and corner,” Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi, 52, said in an interview in the capital, Abuja.

Africa’s biggest oil producer is going through its worst economic slump in 25 years following a plunge in the price and output of crude, which accounts for more than 90 percent of foreign income and two-thirds of government revenue. President Muhammadu Buhari’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, presented in March, seeks to boost agriculture and manufacturing by developing the country’s transport network and power infrastructure.

Key projects include building a second railway line connecting the nation’s two biggest cities, the commercial capital, Lagos, and Kano in the north. The 1,100-kilometer (680-mile) line will carry freight and passengers. The government also wants to construct a coastal railway that connects Lagos to the eastern city of Calabar.

The two new railways are expected to cost $20 billion, with most of the funding coming from the Export–Import Bank of China, which has so far released $5.9 billion. China’s Civil Engineering and Construction Co. is building the project and both railways should be ready by the end of 2019, Amaechi said in an interview last week.

General Electric Co. is leading a group that’s rehabilitating Nigeria’s 3,505 kilometers of century-old, narrow-gauge railways linking the coastal cities of Port Harcourt and Lagos with the north. The group, includingSinoHydro of China, South Africa’s Transnet SOC Ltd. and the Netherlands’ APM Terminals BV will fund, revamp and operate the railways for a period to be decided in negotiations with the government, the minister said. They won the concession in May.

The group plans to invest $2.2 billion, Sabiu Zakari, permanent secretary in the Transport Ministry, said at the time. Nigeria will then have two links between Lagos and Kano, with the new Chinese-built one allowing trains to travel twice as fast as they can on the existing link.

The West African nation is opening up its rail system to private investors following decades of government control. Years of neglect while the nation was in political flux during military rule cut freight-rail capacity to 15,000 metric tons a year in 2005, from 3 million tons four decades earlier, according to the Transport Ministry. Most goods are now transported on worn-out and congested roads. By comparison, Transnet has the capacity to move more than 70 million tons of coal to one South African port annually.

“The rail in Nigeria was neglected for too long,” said Oke Maduegbuna, managing partner at transportation and logistics consultancy Pete, Moss & Sam Ltd. “There’s a new awareness among government officials of the economic benefits of a good rail network,” the Abuja-based expert said by phone, adding that the new projects would succeed only if there is consistency in their planning and execution.

Another $16 billion will be invested in additional rail routes to link up all the country’s state capitals and extend across the northern border into neighboring Niger’s southern city of Maradi, according to the Transport Ministry. Amaechi said it was too early to share a timeline or funding details as the government is still talking to investors for this public-private project.

The government is also trying to complete a $3 billion line from Abuja to the southern oil hub of Warri by 2018, the minister said.

With rail links to the existing and planned deep-sea ports, Nigeria hopes to substantially reduce logistics costs and facilitate exports and imports. The GE concession will provide rail infrastructure that will decongest roads and improve cargo traffic, Nigerian Ports Authority Managing Director Hadiza Bala Usman said in an interview last month.

Forex turnover declines at investors window - BUSINESSDAY

AUGUST 17, 2017

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The foreign exchange daily turnover declined by 20.58 percent to $93.21 million on Wednesday from $117.36 million recorded on Monday at the investors and exporters window.

The data obtained from FMDQ show that naira gained N2.68k to close at N359.69k per dollar compared to N362.37k traded the previous day at the window.

Naira also strengthened at the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Fixing (NAFEX), and the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Fixing (NIFEX), gaining N1.33k and N0.38k respectively. It closed at N362.33k on Tuesday from N363.66k on Monday at the NAFEX, while it closed at N326.37k per dollar on Tuesday from N362.75k per dollar on Monday at the NiFEX window.

At the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) official market, the local currency remained stable closing at the rate of N305.65k per dollar, data from FMDQ revealed.

However, naira closed at N367 per US dollar which show a depreciation in value compared to between N362.50k and N363 per dollar traded in the previous week at the black market.

 

HOPE MOSES-ASHIKE

Cautious tone from central banks sends global stocks lower - REUTERS

AUGUST 17, 2017

BY Alasdair Pal

LONDON (Reuters) - Global stocks fell on Thursday as investors trimmed their exposure to riskier assets after central bank minutes revealed a wary take on the economic outlook from ratesetters on both sides of the Atlantic.

The European Central Bank expressed caution about removing monetary stimulus too soon following a recent bounce in the euro, the record of its last meeting showed - hitting the single currency along with the region's equity markets.

U.S. shares were set to follow suit, extending losses a day after a similarly downbeat message in minutes from the Federal Reserve, where some policymakers cautioned against rate rises while U.S. inflation remained weak.

As money market futures FFF8 cut their expectations of a U.S. rate hike by December to 40 percent from just under 50 percent before the Fed's minutes, futures for the blue-chip S&P 500 ESc1 shed 0.2 percent in pre-market trade.

The NASDAQ index was set to open 0.4 percent lower after technology giant Cisco (CSCO.O) reported weak results after Wednesday's close.

In Europe, the broad Stoxx 600 index was down 0.1 percent, snapping a three-day winning streak.

The UK's FTSE 100 .FTSE fell 0.4 percent, Germany's DAX .GDAXI 0.1 percent and France's CAC 40 .FCHI 0.2 percent.

U.S. President Donald Trump's decision on Wednesday to disband two business councils after a number of its members quit in protest over his comments about white nationalists also continued to weigh on stock valuations.

"Trump dissolving his major business groups makes the investment community even more pessimistic because this sets the stage for even more failure for him," said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Markets in London.

The dollar erased much of its overnight losses, however.

It jumped 0.4 percent against a trade-weighted basket of other currencies .DXY and 0.8 percent against the euro, which hit a three-week low following news of the concern about its gains from within the ECB.

"The euro has shot down as a result. It is a good question of how much further we will go. The reality is the ECB is definitely more concerned than the market gave it credit for," said Simon Derrick, chief market analyst with Bank of New York Mellon in London.

"I think it is entirely possible you could see further downward pressure on the euro."

In commodities, palladium hit a 16-year high, tracking a rally in other base metals.

 

London copper, aluminum and zinc were just off multi-year highs on expectation that a reform of the metals industry in China will curb supply against a backdrop of robust demand.

Oil prices were steady after U.S. data showed a fall in crude stockpiles but also an increase in production, taking crude output to its highest in more than two years.

For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=http://emea1.apps.cp.extranet.thomsonreuters.biz/cms/?pageId=livemarkets

Reporting by Alasdair Pal, additional reporting by Patrick Graham in London; editing by John Stonestreet

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Investors’ crave for Nigerian mutual funds heighten with AUM all-time high - BUSINESSDAY

AUGUST 17, 2017

The value of assets under management (AUM) in the Nigerian mutual funds industry hit all-time high as it surged to N322.99 billion as at week-ended July 21 2017, latest data from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has shown.

The SEC data showed that AUM value rose 11.03 per cent from May 26 2017. Industry stakeholders say that the increase is caused by the increased interest of investors who have been flocking towards Nigerian mutual funds recently.

Analysts hinge the resurgent interest on such factors as the current state of the Nigerian economy, stock market and interest rate fluctuations as well as much improved mutual funds offerings.

This assertion is further backed by a recent report by Quantitative Financial Analytics which estimated that Nigerian mutual funds attracted the sum of N42 billion inflows in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the N49 billion inflows recorded in the entire 2016 fiscal year.

Mutual funds’ assets in Nigeria also grew to N318 billion as at the beginning of the first half of 2017, 42 per cent spike since the beginning of the year. AUM stood at N223.6 billion as at the end of 2016.

It is against this background the Coronation Asset Management Limited (CAM) recently launched its two mutual funds with a view to leveraging its capacity and experience to help investors realise better returns and minimise risks of their investments.

“No one can doubt the capacity and expertise of Coronation Asset Management to deliver competitive returns to investors in the Coronation Mutual Funds,” said Emeka Okolo, senior fund manager and head of Coronation Asset Management at the launch of one of the funds. “The level of professionalism and quality of investments will be difficult to match by other mutual fund managers in Nigeria and the West African sub-region. This, coupled with the proposed investment mix and the fund structures, distinguish these Mutual Funds.”

Okolo noted that active portfolio management by experienced professionals offer investors better prospects on their investments especially in periods of market volatility and economic downturns as is being experienced in Nigeria, making mutual funds an optimal choice.

He said that the recently launched Naira-denominated, open-ended mutual funds by CAM, which witnessed a high subscription rate by individuals, retail and institutional investors, has continued to elicit excitement.

The Mutual Funds, which include the N1.5 billion money market fund, the N400 million fixed income fund, and the N200 million balanced fund, were all offered at par of 1 Naira each.

Tunde Folawiyo, chairman of Coronation Merchant Bank, said that the funds offer all strata of investors, individual and corporate alike, an opportunity to diversify their investment portfolios backed by the strength of the Coronation brand and managed by a team of experienced professionals at CAM.

The money market fund and the fixed income fund have been rated “A- (NG)(f)”  and “AA-/FV4 (NG)(f)”by Agusto & Co, a foremost Nigerian rating agency. The ratings indicate low to medium risk characteristics of the funds.

The initial public offering (IPO) for the funds came on the back of a strong financial year for the premium financial institution.

Coronation Merchant Bank, the parent company of CVAM, had grown its profits by 128 per cent from December 2015 to December 2016. The Group’s financial strength, sound risk management, prudent investment strategies, tradition of excellent value delivery to all stakeholders, attracted investors to the IPO for the mutual funds.

The Coronation mutual funds are being overseen by institutions with strong track records of providing superior financial services. CAM acting is the Fund Manager, Citibank Nigeria is custodian, and United Securities Limited is registrar to all three funds.

Stanbic IBTC Trustees Limited will acts as Trustee to the Balance and Fixed Income Funds while United Capital Trustees will act as Trustee to the Money Market Fund.

 

INNOCENT UNAH

NBS: Roughly N400bn in Bribes Given to Public Officials Annually - THISDAY

AUGUST 17, 2017
  • Says bribery is an established part of administrative procedure in Nigeria
  • Police, judiciary identified as biggest bribe-takers

Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

An estimated N400 billion, or the equivalent of $4.6 billion in purchasing power parity (PPP), representing 39 per cent of the combined federal and state education budgets in 2016, is paid out as bribes to public officials in Nigeria annually, a new report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), has revealed.

The National Corruption Report, which covered the period between June 2015 and May 2016 also showed that almost a third of Nigerian adults (32.3 per cent) who had contact with public officials between June 2015 and May 2016 had to pay, or were requested to pay a bribe to such public officials.

 

According to the report, the magnitude of public sector bribes in Nigeria becomes even more palpable when factoring in the frequency of the payments, adding that the majority of those who paid bribes to public officials did so more than once over the course of the year.

Bribe-payers, it added, pay an average of some six bribes in one year, or roughly one bribe every two months.
“Roughly 400 billion Nigerian Naira is spent on bribes each year. Taking into account the fact that nine out of every ten bribes paid to public officials in Nigeria are paid in cash and the size of the payments made, it is estimated that the total amount of bribes paid to public officials in Nigeria in the 12 months prior to the survey was around 400 billion Nigerian Naira (NGN), the equivalent of $4.6 billion in purchasing power parity (PPP). This sum is equivalent to 39 per cent of the combined federal and state education budgets in 2016,” the report said.

It equally revealed that bribe-payers spend an eighth of their salary on bribes, noting that the average sum paid as cash bribe in the country was approximately N5,300, which is equivalent to roughly $61(PPP).

“This means that every time a Nigerian pays a cash bribe, he or she spends an average of about 28.2 per cent of the average monthly salary of approximately NGN18,900.

“Since bribe-payers in Nigeria pay an average of 5.8 bribes over the course of one year, 92 per cent of which are paid in cash, they spend an average of NGN 28,200 annually on cash bribes—equivalent to 12.5 per cent of the annual average salary,” it added.

The report, which is the first of its kind in the country in terms of scope, said Nigerians consider bribery the third most important problem facing their country.

“The above findings could explain why, after the high cost of living and unemployment, Nigerians consider corruption to be the third most important problem facing their country, well ahead of the state of the country’s infrastructure and health services.

“Public sector bribery is not the only form of corruption affecting Nigeria: the prevalence of bribery in relation to selected employees of private companies is 5.5 per cent, meaning that bribery is also significant in the private sector in Nigeria.

“However, the payment of bribes to public officials is the most familiar and widespread form of corruption directly experienced by the population and the one that most affects the lives of ordinary citizens,” it noted.

Giving an insight into how bribery works in the country, the report said public officials in Nigeria show little hesitation in asking for a bribe, noting that the vast majority of bribery episodes are initiated either directly or indirectly by public officials (85.3 per cent), while almost 70 per cent of bribes are paid before a service is rendered.

It stressed that with such a large portion of public officials initiating bribes, which are paid up-front, it seemed that many public officials show little hesitation in asking for a kickback to carry out their duty, adding that bribery is an established part of the administrative procedure in Nigeria.

“While money is by far the most important form of bribe payment in Nigeria, the survey shows that other forms of bribe payment, such as the provision of food and drink, the handing over of valuables or the exchange of another service or favour, also exist.

“Qualitative research shows that such exchanges may sometimes include sexual services, although the actual extent of that particular form of bribe payment is unknown,” the NBS report said.

The survey showed that a large proportion of bribes in Nigeria (42 per cent) are paid to speed up or finalise an administrative procedure that may otherwise be delayed for long periods or even indefinitely, thus making bribery the most effective option for facilitating that service.

According to the report, the second largest proportion of bribes (18 per cent) is paid to avoid the payment of a fine, a frequent request in citizens’ encounters with the police, while 13 per cent of all bribes are paid to avoid the cancellation of public utility services, an indication that the provision of the most basic amenities, including water and sanitation, can be subject to abuse of power by public officials in Nigeria.

On the categories of public servants indulging in bribery, the report said law enforcement and the judiciary were areas of particular concern.

“Police officers are the type of public official to whom bribes are most commonly paid in Nigeria. Of all adult Nigerians who had direct contact with a police officer in the 12 months prior to the survey, almost half (46.4 per cent) paid that officer at least one bribe, and in many cases more than one, since police officers are also among the three types of public officials to whom bribes are paid most frequently (5.3 bribes per bribe-payer over the course of 12 months) in Nigeria. At the same time, the average bribe paid to police officers is somewhat below the average bribe size.

“Although fewer people come into contact with judiciary officials than with police officers over the course of the year, when they do, the risk of bribery is considerable: at 33 per cent, the prevalence of bribery in relation to prosecutors is the second highest, closely followed by judges and magistrates, at 31.5 per cent.

“The experience of corruption in encounters with public officials whose duty it is to uphold the rule of law can lead to the erosion of trust in public authority,” it said.

The report put the prevalence rate of corruption in the public sector at 32.3 per cent, and the average number of bribes paid to public officials by bribe-payers at 5.8.

The total number of bribes paid to public officials in Nigeria in the 12-month period also stands at 82.3 million, while per capita number of bribes paid to public officials by the adult population was 0.9 per cent.

The contact rate with public officials in the review period was 52.2 per cent; the prevalence rate in the rural setting was 31.0 per cent while 34.8 per cent was posted in the urban setting

On the average number of bribes paid to public officials by adult Nigerians in the period, by zone, the North-west recorded 0.86 per cent; North-east 0.78 per cent; North-Central 1.1 per cent; South-West 1.13 per cent; South-South 1.05 per cent; and South-east 0.60 per cent.

The NBS said the data presented in the report was collected in the National Survey on the Quality and Integrity of Public Services, otherwise known as the Nigerian Corruption Survey, a project funded by the European Union and implemented by the UNODC in collaboration with the National Bureau of Statistics of Nigeria (NBS).

The statistical agency noted that Nigerian Corruption Survey was designed as a large-scale household survey, representative at the level of the Nigerian states, with the aim of collecting baseline information.

The report is the first comprehensive nationwide household survey on corruption to be conducted in Nigeria and in Africa at large, and covers all states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory.

According to the NBS, the report provides very valuable and reliable information, which will support the national efforts at reducing the corruption menace, as well as blocking loopholes in public services.

Nigeria’s bogus auto policy pushes car prices up 200% - BUSINESSDAY

AUGUST 17, 2017

Prices of brand new vehicles sold in Nigeria have risen by more than 200 percent between 2014 and 2017 and are now out of the reach most individuals and corporate buyers who need them for their business.
The significant rise in the prices of brand new vehicles has been blamed largely on the bogus auto policy, which raised import duty on cars to 35 percent in addition to a 35 percent levy, amounting to 70 percent, as well as a weaker naira.
Analysts say the policy automatically raises the prices of cars by 70 percent, pricing out the middle-class and other low income earners in need of mobility.
Added to this, is the weaker exchange rate of the naira that is compounded by the increase in duties and levies on imported new vehicles.
According to industry watchers, the 70 percent increase in taxes on imported new vehicles, along with the 86 percent fall in exchange rate of the naira from N196 to the dollar, to relative stability at N365 in recent times, including other incidental expenses at the ports and company overhead costs, have combined to force prices of vehicles northwards.
Many individuals who can no longer afford the new cars have resorted to maintaining their old cars for extended periods of time, even as prospects of workable financing schemes remain unavailable.
Many banks accustomed to changing cars for top executives every four years, have suspended the practice, due to high cost of procuring the new vehicles.

The impact has been seen in a sharp drop in the sale of new vehicles in the country, resulting in the closure of many car dealerships and the consequent loss of jobs.
The Federal Government had in 2013 increased the duties and levies on imported new vehicles, to encourage local auto assemblers through some incentives under the 2013-2023 National Automotive Industrial Development Plan (NAIDP) as supervised by the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC).
A sample list of car prices from the Koreans, Japanese and German manufacturers, which come in various engine capacities across model ranges, exclusively obtained by BusinessDay, showed that prices have more than doubled between 2014 and 2017.
In 2014, a brand new Kia Cerato 1.6 litre automatic transmission saloon car sold for N3.96 million but now costs N9.54 million in 2017, while a Kia Picanto 1-liter engine capacity, which cost N2.25m three years ago, is now sold for N4.95 million in 2017.
Toyota Corolla 1.6 liter GLI automatic transmission fabric sold for N4.45 million three years ago, now costs N18.9 million.
In the same period, a Mercedes-Benz C200 luxury sedan, which was sold with a dealership price tag of N10.5 million, costs N25 million in 2017, while a Mercedes G63AMG model which previously sold at N50 million, presently wears a price tag of N78 million.

This shows a price jump of over 100 percent and this applies to other brands of vehicles in the market, apart from those manufactured in Korea, Japan or Germany.
According to Kunle Ade-Ojo, Managing Director/CEO, Toyota Nigeria Limited, the rise in vehicle prices is majorly due to the unfavourable exchange rate of the naira.
Ade-Ojo explained that as the dollar is scarce, so also is the naira pretty much scarce and that bank’s interest rates have gone up.
“Even though the exchange rate has moderated from a high of about N520 to the dollar at a very critical period and trading at about N366 to the dollar and below, from the end of 2016 to 2017, it is still not available.”
Ade-Ojo estimated that the country’s auto industry is expected to import and sell between 8,000 and 10,000 new vehicles this year, which is lower than the 15,000 projected at the end of last year.
The forecast, Ade-Ojo said, was based on the industry’s performance in the first quarter of 2017, adding that at the end of the first quarter of 2017, total import figures in the nation’s automobile industry, from the nation’s ports, came to about 350 units, compared to about 3,500 units that came in at the same period last year.
He said with this statistics, “imports dropped by about 90 percent between 2016 and 2017 first quarter.

“In terms of retail sales, we are estimating, based on the information we have, that the auto market did about 2,000 vehicles, compared to about 5,000 vehicles that was done in first quarter of 2015, a drop of over 50 percent in retail sales.
“Passenger cars reduced more than commercial cars and of course, when you look at the duties on passenger cars also at 70 percent, compared to 35 percent for commercial, the impact is more on passenger vehicles.”
Retail sales went from about 32,000 in 2015 to about 18,000 last year, representing a market drop of about 42 percent.
While giving the status of the implementation report of the NAIDP between October 2013 and June 2017 at a recent stakeholders meeting involving local auto assemblers and other stakeholders in Lagos recently, Luqman Mamudu, Director of Policy & Planning, National Automotive Design & Development Council (NADDC) revealed that the automotive policy is seeing tremendous progress, despite doubts in some quarters and that soon, Nigerians will begin to see positive result.
He disclosed that at the inception of the automotive policy in 2013, the number of approved local assemblers by the NADDC was 11 companies and grew to 53 companies in 2017.

Production capacity rose from 108,380 units in 2013 to 408,870 units in 2017. Actual production size increased from 1665 in 2013; 4776 in 2014; 11,332 in 2015 and started witnessing a drop from to 11, 332 in 2015 to 10,673 in 2016 and 8,473 in 2017.
Reacting on the astronomical jump in prices of new vehicles, Olawale Jimoh, Marketing Manager, Kia Motors Nigeria Limited, stated that for over two years now, the steady increase in the prices of cars in Nigeria has been misconstrued by some industry followers.
He argued that the local assembly of cars will invariably bring a new dawn that will result in affordable “Made in Nigeria” cars.

That expectation should ideally not be out of place, if Nigeria’s economy over the years has been stable.

He lamented that with the fast depreciation in the value of the naira, prices of cars have increased by more than 100 percent, which may still not totally compensate for the drop in the value of the naira.

Jimoh lamented that at this stage of the country’s auto development, assembly plants still import SKD kits to assemble, on account of the dearth of component manufacturers in the country, among the interplay of other factors.

 

MIKE OCHONMA

Abokifx looks at various countries foreign reserves in comparison to Nigeria's foreign reserve - abokifx

JULY 15, 2017

With Nigeria's population at 190 million, Nigeria's foreign reserve needs to be about $100bn to eliminate any pressures on the naira. The chart and table below show why this is necessary.   -    abokiFX research

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YEAR TO DATE FOREIGN RESERVE MOVEMENT IN USD :CHART - abokiFX

JULY 13, 2017

  • The Naira has been trading below N400/$ for the past four months as the foreign reserves hover above $30bn. 
  • There is the risk of crude oil falling below $40 a barrel which could see the reserves dip below the $30bn threshold. 
  • The chart above shows that a foreign reserve below $30bn will put pressure on the naira, making it slip back above N400/$ in the parallel market.

Aviation Sector Stable amidst Challenges - THISDAY

JUNE 02, 2017

Although Nigerian airlines faced daunting challenges in the last two years of Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, there was some measure of stability in the sector despite the hiccups, writes Chinedu Eze

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There were two key incidents that defined the aviation sector in the last two years. One was the protracted scarcity of aviation fuel, known as Jet A1, which price rose as high as N280.00 per litre and the second was the resurfacing of the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, which forced the relocation of air operations in the capital city to Kaduna airport for six weeks.

While the rehabilitation of Abuja airport runway was a big plus for the Buhari administration; it received heavy knocks for the scarcity and high cost of aviation fuel.

 

But beyond what the administration could do or could not do, the domestic airlines lost over N2.3 billion during the peak Christmas season last year when hundreds of flights were cancelled at different airports in the country due to harmattan haze.

Forex Scarcity
The high price of aviation fuel was caused by the low value of the naira. As the dollar began to rise in value against the naira, prices of imported goods and services spiralled. This was what caused the scarcity and high price of aviation fuel. Marketers faced difficulty sources foreign exchange at lower price below the parallel market price to import the product.

The airlines faced further challenges because they could not source the scarce dollar to import spares, send their pilots to simulator training overseas and even take their aircraft overseas for routine maintenance checks.

But after a long outcry by the airlines to the federal government to give them access to FX, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) created a special window for them and manufacturing concerns to access FX. But the modalities were still cumbersome and the airlines could not withstand the long wait as airline business is critical about time. An aircraft engine that suffered bird strike cannot wait for three months before the engine could be replaced and for the aircraft to become airborne again. The airline would suffer heavy financial losses and may not be able to meet its flight schedules and financial obligations when one aircraft is left as aircraft on ground (AOG).

In late 2016, the Managing Director and CEO of Medview Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole summed the CBN policy on FX to the airlines thus: “The CBN came out with a design which they call future, forward, spot; what it means is that you put your money for the next two months, three months, four months and you will be given allocation. In doing that you commit all your operational cash so everything has to cease until that two months; that is what it means. But we are hoping that things will improve. So when you look at the business of aviation it is all in dollars and I believe we are now looking at government to tell them what to do. Somebody right there needs to advise them to see aviation as a priority.”

Things really improved by 2017, when government began to supply dollars to ease the tension on the naira. But the airlines still faced problem sourcing the dollar at a good price.

Abuja Airport
When in March the federal government closed the nation’s busiest airport, the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja for the repair of its runway, which had become a death trap, many Nigerians were not happy about it because they believed that there could be an alternative to closing the airport, as examples began to emanate where airport runways were rehabilitated while they were still in service.

The closure of the airport led to loss of economic activities in the Federal Capital Territory but the runway rehabilitation saved lives and improved the safety of flight operations to the capital city. Above all, what made the rehabilitation of the runway memorable was the fact that government delivered as promised. The Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika kept to his promise and etched his promise that he would resign his job if the airport was not reopened at the targeted date in the memory of many Nigerians. The airport was closed on March 8 and reopened officially on April 19, 2017.

To prepare Kaduna airport as an alternative to Abuja for the six weeks the closure of the later would last, government had to upgrade many facilities at Kaduna airport at huge costs. That became a win-win situation because the obsolete facilities at the airport and uncompleted passenger terminal, which the six weeks relocation of Abuja flight operations facilitated their completion, was akin to killing two birds with one stone.

“It is no longer news that the federal government made considerable financial provision to ensure that the Kaduna airport was adequately prepared to play this alternate role including the provision of adequate aids and other relevant infrastructure that the airport did not have. The Minister of State, Aviation, who has been in the forefront of driving this difficult transition, met with initial challenges associated with the movement, but one after another, those challenges were dealt with appropriately in the last four weeks,” said an official of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

Airport Terminals
In the last two years, the federal government has continued to work on the new terminals, which were started under the past administration, at the five international airports in the country, including Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, Abuja and Enugu and some of them are over 80 percent completed. In fact, almost all of them would be made operational before end of this year.
The government also introduced a policy mandating Aviation Security (AVSEC) of FAAN to carry arms in order to improve security at the airports. It also reinforced the policy on waiver of Customs duties on aircraft parts and efforts are being made to cut down the prices of aviation fuel despite the fact that the product is still being imported.

Arik Take Over
The major upheaval that has taken place in the aviation industry in the last two years was the takeover of Arik Air by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) for its failure to service its debts. Since after the takeover, the new management of the airline seems to be at crossroads about how to turn the airline around amid the challenges of paucity of funds and low passenger traffic occasioned by the current recession. The workers are also in a dilemma about tomorrow, while government is yet to make definite pronouncement on the future of the airline.

But the new management of the airline has brought back some of the aircraft in the fleet on AOG to operations, just as the workers who feared at the beginning of the takeover have continued to retain their jobs.

Airports Concessions
There are three cardinal things this government said it would achieve in aviation in the four-year tenure. One is establishing a national carrier; two is building Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility and the third is concession major airports.
In the last two years, none of these set objectives had been accomplished. However, the government has initiated steps to actualise them through the establishment of transaction advisers. But government explained that the airports would remain underperforming with obsolete facilities until the private sector injects and modernises these airports.
The Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Sirika recently noted that concession might be the only choice government has now to modernise nation’s airports.

“I think the ultimate solution to all of these is to concession these airports. I have maintained this because I don’t know any other way we can go about it. That is the only way to go because government does not have the resources to continue to invest in these airports. We want to make sure that all the things at the Abuja airport are fixed and the airport returns to normal operation.
However, I think that the ultimate end and solution to all of these is the concession of these airports. I have maintained this. It is the only solution, I don’t know any other way we can do it because government no longer have the resources to continue to invest in these airports,” Sirika said.
However, many industry observers are sceptical about the actualisation of these goals, as no concrete action has been taken two years into the four years administration.

Questionable Appointments
The appointment of new directors for the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), early this year, had been greeted with severe criticism by the labour unions.
The unions excoriated government for appointing outsiders without experience to do jobs that would be effectively done some people in the industry who have better experience and knowledge of the sector.
But the government was earlier commended for appointing professionals in the industry to head the aviation agencies, including the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), the College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria and the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET).

Funding Challenges
Reviewing the two years of the Buhari administration, a former Commandant of the Lagos airport and the Secretary of Aviation Round Table (ART), Group Captain John Ojikutu (retd) said: “It has opened the decays and the decadence in the sector which for too long have been shielded from the public view. We have come to know that a lot of the private operators have been living on bank loans and government intervention funds yet they remained in acute debts to the services providers. They get concession on Customs duties on aircraft importation and spares and on foreign exchange rate, yet they are indebted to banks, insurance, staff salaries in multiple arrears.
“In all these, they sell tickets on cash basis and not on credit; the question to ask is, what do these airlines do with their earnings?”

Ojikutu said in spite of the indebtedness of these airlines to the government services providers, and invariably the low revenue accrued to government, it has been able to sustain operations in the sector, noting that Abuja that accounts for about 35 percent of air and passengers traffic, whose runway that needed to have been repaired seven years ago was repaired within six weeks. Similarly, many navigational aids and runway approach aids that needed calibration and had exceeded their tolerance emergency were calibrated and have been kept serviceable to sustain operations.

Ojikutu however, did not talk about the high charges levelled on the airlines, the lack of airfield lighting in many airports, which force airlines to operate only six hours and the high cost of aviation fuel, but on airport concession he said: “My advice to government on this path is to concession only the non aeronautical facilities and infrastructure such as the passengers and cargo terminal buildings; aircraft aprons, car parks and toll gates.

“These have little concerns to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). However, government must retain the aeronautical services and facilities including airport security. Others will include air traffic control and information services, runways and taxiways, perimeter and security fences, emergency and rescue services, etc. These are the concerns of ICAO and these are the State’s obligations to the Chicago convention in all its 19 Annexes.”

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WEEKAHEAD-Nigerian naira expected to be stable due to dollar flows - REUTERS

JUNE 02, 2017

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The Nigerian naira is expected to be stable in the coming week while the Zambian kwacha could come under pressure.

 

NIGERIA

The Nigerian naira is seen stable across the board in the near term on increased dollar supply to both the official interbank window and the black market.

It has been trading around 382 to the dollar on the black market in the last two weeks, while at the interbank market the naira was trading at around 305.40 per dollar.

The central bank has been intervening on the official market to try to narrow the spread between the official interbank and black markets. It has sold over $4 billion since February, improving dollar supply and providing support for the naira.

 

KENYA

The Kenyan shilling could gain ground against the dollar in the coming week with dwindling end month importer demand giving way to foreign exchange inflows from charities and exporters, traders said.

At 0850 GMT on Wednesday, commercial banks quoted the shilling at 103.35/45 per dollar, compared with 103.25/45 at last Thursday's close. Thursday was a public holiday.

"End of month demand is taking it's course, I expect it to gain maybe slightly," said a trader from a commercial bank.

 

ZAMBIA

The Zambian kwacha is likely to come under pressure in the coming week due to increasing demand for dollars from importers at the start of the new month.

At 0740 GMT on Thursday, commercial banks quoted the currency at 9.2500 per dollar, stronger than 9.3300 a week ago.

"Dollar supply continues to wane while demand persists. Higher levels will attract exporters to provide resistance," one senior commercial bank trader said.

 

UGANDA

The Ugandan shilling is seen posting marginal gains in the coming week, boosted by flagging appetite for hard currency as commercial banks stay on the sidelines ahead of 2017/18 fiscal year budget reading.

At 1100 GMT, commercial banks quoted the shilling on 3,590/3,600, stronger than last Thursday's close of 3,600/3,610.

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"In the days ahead of the budget players tend to go slow on taking positions and this is what we're likely to see," said a trader at a leading commercial bank.

The budget for the next July-June fiscal year is due to be read on June 8.

 

GHANA

Ghana's cedi is seen stable next week on expected offshore portfolio inflows on the heels of a three-year local bond and central bank dollar sales, traders said.

The local unit, which has been fairly stable most part of the year, weakened 2.8 percent in the month of May on a mid-month corporate dollar demand surge. It was trading at 4.3275 to the greenback by mid-morning on Thursday, compared with 4.3200 a month ago.

"We see a bullish outlook for the cedi in the days ahead as we expect portfolio inflows and central bank support to offer the currency some stability," analyst Joseph Biggles Amponsah of Accra-based Dortis Research said.

 

TANZANIA

The Tanzanian shilling could come under pressure in the coming days due to demand for hard currency from the oil sector. Commercial banks quoted the shilling at 2,238/2,243 to the dollar on Thursday from 2,234/2,244 a week ago. "There is pressure on the local currency coming from the oil sector, despite month-end dollar inflows from corporates. The shilling could trade in a tight range next week," said a trader at CRDB Bank. (Reporting by Oludare Mayowa, John Ndiso, Chris Mfula, Elias Biryabarema, Kwasi Kpodo and Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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UPDATE 3-Oil prices drop amid glut concerns, U.S. withdrawal from climate deal - REUTERS

JUNE 02, 2017

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* U.S. President Trump says to walk away from Paris climate accord

* That could spark "drilling free for all" in the U.S. - analyst

* Rising U.S. output has been blunting OPEC efforts to clear glut

* Market can stabilise if all producers cut output - Rosneft CEO (Adds Russia's Rosneft CEO comments, updates prices)

By Jane Chung

SEOUL, June 2 (Reuters) - Oil prices tumbled below $50 on Friday amid worries that U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to abandon a global climate pact could spark more crude drilling in the United States, stoking a persistent glut in global supply.

Global benchmark Brent crude futures was down 1.7 percent, or 80 cents, at $49.75 a barrel, as of 0725 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures dropped 87 cents, or 1.81 percent, to $47.46 per barrel.

Commodity markets were absorbing news the United States would withdraw from the landmark 2015 global agreement to fight climate change, a move that fulfilled a major campaign pledge but drew condemnation from U.S. allies.

"This could lead to a drilling free-for-all in the U.S. and also see other signatories waver in their commitments," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, OANDA.

"This outcome could increase the supply-side equation from the United States and complicate OPEC's forward projections. A scenario that would not be favourable to oil prices."

Surging U.S. production has put a strain on OPEC members' efforts to curb production to drain a global crude supply overhang.

A week ago, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and some non-OPEC members met in Vienna to roll over an output cut deal to reduce 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) until the end of next March.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said on Friday he did not think that the global output cut agreement would be altered should prices go lower.

Russia's Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin also said the market cannot stabilise unless all producers cut output.

Oil prices are down some 7.5 percent since OPEC's May 25 decision to extend the cuts.

Faced with lingering glut woes, the oil cartel also discussed last week reducing output by a further 1 to 1.5 percent, and could revisit the proposal should inventories remain high, according to sources.

But oil markets were offered some support by official data that showed crude inventories in the United States, the world's top oil consumer, fell sharply last week as refining and exports surged to record highs.

Crude stockpiles were down by 6.4 million barrels in the week to May 26, beating analyst expectations for a decrease of 2.5 million barrels.

However, U.S. crude production rose to 9.34 million bpd last week, up nearly 500,000 bpd from a year ago.

"We may or may not see more huge draws. But crude production is slowly but surely going to neutralize the (OPEC-led)production cut," said Sukrit Vijayakar, director of energy consultancy Trifecta.

Rising output from Nigeria and Libya, which are exempted from the deal, is also undercutting oil producers' attempt to limit production. (Reporting by Jane Chung; Additional reporting by Jessica Jaganathan and Henning Gloystein in SINGAPORE; Editing by Joseph Radford and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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Oil prices slide nearly 1 pct on persistent glut concerns - REUTERS

JUNE 02, 2017

By Jane Chung

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SEOUL, June 2 (Reuters) - Oil prices dropped nearly 1 percent in early Asian trade on Friday, dragged down by ongoing concerns over a global glut in crude supply despite a bigger-than-expected draw in U.S. crude inventories.

Global benchmark Brent crude futures were down 39 cents, or 0.77 percent, at $50.25 a barrel at 0039 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures dropped 45 cents, or 0.93 percent, to $47.91 per barrel.

Official data showed crude inventories in the United States, the world's top oil consumer, fell sharply last week as refining and exports surged to record highs.

Crude stockpiles were down to 6.4 million barrels in the week to May 26, beating analyst expectations for a decrease of 2.5 million barrels.

Although a sharp fall of U.S. crude inventories could be seen as a supportive factor to oil prices, U.S. crude production rose to 9.35 million bpd last week, up nearly 500,000 bpd from a year ago.

Surging U.S. production has put a strain on OPEC members' efforts to curb production cuts in a bid to drain a global crude supply overhang and to prop up prices.

A week ago, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and some non-OPEC members met in Vienna to roll over the output cut deal to reduce 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) until the end of next March.

Faced with lingering glut woes, the oil cartel discussed last week reducing output by a further 1 to 1.5 percent, and could revisit the proposal should inventories remain high, according to sources.

Rising output from Nigeria and Libya is further undercutting the oil producers' attempt to limit oil production. Nigeria and Libya are exempted from curbing output as they seek to restore supplies hurt by internal conflicts.

Libya's oil production has risen to 827,000 bpd after technical problems were resolved at the Sharara field. That was above a three-year peak of 800,000 bpd reached earlier in May.

Some commodity markets were also absorbing news that President Donald Trump said he would withdraw the United States from the landmark 2015 global agreement to fight climate change, a move that fulfilled a major campaign pledge but drew condemnation from U.S. allies and business leaders.

But Jonathan Barratt, chief investment officer at Sydney’s Ayers Alliance, said the U.S. decision to walk away from the climate agreement was not likely to impact oil markets.

“I see the little connection between oil markets and the Paris accord," Barratt said.

"I think the market is looking for swing factors like an increase in demand from China,” he said.

(Reporting by Jane Chung; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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Foreign participation in Egypt T-bill auctions at $368 mln -finance ministry - REUTERS

JUNE 02, 2017

CAIRO, June 1 (Reuters) - Foreign participation in Egypt's Thursday treasury bill auctions amounted to 6.6 billion Egyptian pounds ($368 million), the head of public debt at the Finance Ministry, Sami Khallaf, told Reuters.

Egypt on Thursday auctioned six-month and one-year treasury bills.

($1 = 17.9500 Egyptian pounds) (Reporting by Eric Knecht; Editing by Ahmed Aboulenein)

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Pound to US Dollar Poised to Sell Off Over Next Five Days - PSL

MAY 15, 2017

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  • Written by Joaquin Monfort

GBP/USD rose to within a hair's breadth of the psychologically significant 1.3000 level before rolling over last week and given price action so far, this may be the precursor to a deeper sell off in the coming week.

The pair has formed a topping pattern clearly visible on the four-hour chart, which suggests a strong possibility of further downside.

The pattern is probably what is known amongst technicians as an ending diagonal.

These occur at the end of uptrends and often signal an imminent and strong sell-off in the pair and a reversal of the trend on a higher timeframe.

Below is an idealized image of an ending diagonal and a ‘real’ ending diagonal on EUR/USD as well as the sell-off which followed.

GBPUSDMay14diagideal

GBPUSDMay14diag

These images look very similar to the ending diagonal which appears to be forming on GBP/USD.

The pattern on GBP/USD shows a truncated or incomplete wave 4 – and therefore is not ideal – however some license is allowed in identification.

GBPUSDMay14

The exchange rate has already broken below the lower borderline of the pattern before recovering back up to it.

This is probably what is known as a ‘throwback’, which is the move back to a trendline or pattern border immediately after a breakout has occurred.

These moves almost always result in a resumption direction of the breakout after the exchange rate has said its ‘final goodbye’ or ‘air kiss goodbye’ as it is often referred to by traders, to the trend or borderline.

These are optimum entry points for traders seeking the alchemy of low risk – high reward.

The breakdown and throwback suggests a continuation lower in the week ahead.

The MACD is also very bearishly aligned and now below the zeroline which indicates a change of trend in the traditional interpretation of the indicator, as expressed by its originator Gerald Appel.

We have taken the height of the pattern at its widest point (a) to calculate the potential downside (b), in a method similar to forecasting the extent of a triangle’s breakout.

This appears to forecast a target at around 1.2760, where support kicks in from the monthly pivot.

For confirmation of more downside, however, we would first want to see a break below the 1.2845 lows.

Data for the Dollar

It is a relatively quiet week ahead on the hard data front for the US Dollar.

Building Permits are the first tier-one release and are scheduled to come out on Tuesday, May 16 at 13.30 (BST).

They are expected to show a rise to 1.27m in April.

Housing data has generally been strong lately, suggesting a more upside.

Housing Starts, out at the same time, are forecast to show a rise of 1.26m from a previous result of 1.215m.

The next big release is the Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index, out on Thursday at 13.30 which is expected to show a decline to 19.8 from 22.00 previously.

Other data of note is New York Manufacturing, out at 13.30 on Monday and Net flows of financial investments (Net TIC flows) at 21.00, which is forecast to show a rising surplus of inflows into USD.

The Dollar is at risk of downside as expectations of 2 or even 3 hikes in 2017 have started to shift from the reality of slightly below expectations data releases.

“There’s a serious misalignment between U.S. data, market expectations and Fed speak. Friday’s U.S. economic reports raise questions about the possibility of a rate hike in June,” said Kathy Lien in her week ahead report.

Data for the Pound

Retails Sales, on Thursday, May 18 at 9.30 (BST) will probably be the most significant release in the week ahead as it covers the UK economy’s current weak spot.

Consumer spending has slowed in the first quarter as the weak pound has put pushed up the price of many imports leading shoppers to limit the size of their baskets.

This slowdown in the high street is a major concern as if it continues it will depress economic growth significantly given that it accounts for the largest proportion of GDP.

Slower growth will lessen even further the likelihood of the Bank of England (BOE) bringing forward the time when they will raise interest rates.

Given relatively higher interest rates tend to attract more capital flows which increase demand for a currency the pound stands to lose out if the BOE adopt a more dovish tone – which by dovish means more inclined to cut rather than raise interest rates.

Inflation data, on Tuesday, May 16 at  9.30 is the other major release for the currency, as it too could impact on rate setting.

Headline CPI is expected to show a 2.6% rise compared to April last year and 0.4% on a monthly basis.

Unemployment and Earnings data are out on Wednesday at 9.30 and are forecast to show earnings rise by 2.4% compared to March 2016 whilst the unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged at 4.7%.

The change in those seeking unemployment benefits, meanwhile, is expected to show a rise of 5k in April.

All three of these releases could impact heavily on sterling if they come out very different from expectations, with Kathy Lien of BK asset management, for one, seeing an upside bias to the releases:

“We expect most of these reports to surprise to the upside, particularly the labor data as the PMIs report some of the strongest conditions in the labor market this year,” said Lien. 

FG, regulators need proactive measures to attract diversified investors – VANGUARD

MAY 15, 2017

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Solid -Rock Securities and Investment Plc, Mr. Patrick Ezeagu, in this interview spoke on what regulators and the government can do to attract diversified investors to boost the Nigerian capital market.  

By Peter Egwuatu

 

WHAT kind of actions would you like the regulators to adopt that can attract investors to the market?

If the Federal Government remains committed to the financing of infrastructure deficit; this can done through the capital market. One of the major challenges businesses are facing is poor infrastructure which consume a large chunk of their revenues. The Federal Government should ensure that the capital expenditure of the 2017 budget is dedicated to improving infrastructure to enhance the ease of doing business in the country and for businesses to become productive and move towards economic recovery.

In addition, a time has come when the federal Government should involve the capital market regulators and operators in the build -up to budgetary processes and procedures in view of the pivotal role of the market to the  growth and development of the economy.

The market is  a reservoir of cheap and long term funds which is required for long term development of any nation. The capital market serves as a buffer zone for the government to finance budget deficit and there is a correlation between the development of the economy and its capital market. 

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Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Solid -Rock Securities and Investment Plc, Mr. Patrick Ezeagu

What are the effects of high exchange rate and inflation rate on investment in the stock market?

High exchange rate and inflation are the twin evils that afflict the capital market and indeed every economic endeavour. For a start, these two variables introduce a high level of uncertainty to the price structures of the market. Secondly, they stifle savings which is the fulcrum of investment. Any phenomenon that negatively impacts on savings reduces the quantum of available investible fund for Capital Market investment. Thirdly, it hits the foreign portfolio investors as they face Exchange rate risk with their investment, especially,  with respect to repatriation of dividend or capital or both.

As a result, one of the main reasons why our capital market has been witnessing low patronage is attributable to the impact of both inflation and the uncomfortable high exchange rate regime. However, I am glad that the CBN is coming to terms with the need to free the strangulating hold it has on the rate to enable the Naira find its market determined exchange rate with the other currencies.

In this way, both investors in the capital market and other users of FX can be relatively assured of a band within which they can benchmark their exchange rate. The flip side is that inflation shall also be contained in the process as the economy and particularly the capital market inches towards a full free market determined price structures.

How can the governments at all tiers utilize the Capital Market to finance the economy?

Government at all levels utilizes the Capital Market to finance the economy because it provides an alternative source of funding that can complement Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). Capital Market fund is relatively cheaper than any other means of funding and has a longer maturity period.

There are various investments/windows available to both Federal and States governments in accessing funding from the market, these include asset sale, bond issuance such as Sovereign, Sub-national, green bonds, etc. These debt instruments are available and governments at various tiers are at liberty to fund infrastructural development using either or a combination of these types of instruments.

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Euro zone recovery, Macron win give ECB chance to consider unwinding policy - BLOOMBERG

MAY 15, 2017

May 13 An economic recovery and robust outlook in the euro zone mean the European Central Bank may be able to look at normalising its ultra-loose monetary policy, German Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said on Saturday.

Weidmann, one of the most conservative ECB policymakers, said the election of Emmanuel Macron as French president should give the single currency bloc an additional economic boost.

"The strengthening economic development in the euro zone and the robust outlook make a normalisation (of monetary policy) conceivable," Weidmann said at a meeting of the financial leaders of seven leading world economies in Bari, Italy.

But he said a rise in inflation should become more sustainable before the ECB considers such a move.

He added Macron's victory in France's presidential election should help boost growth in the euro zone. Macron won on a platform of reforming France and a business-friendly vision of European integration.

"The election victory of Macron gives a chance that the euro zone economy gets an additional momentum," Weidmann said. (Reporting by Gernot Heller; Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Mark Potter)

Euro zone recovery, Macron win give ECB chance to consider unwinding policy - BLOOMBERG

MAY 15, 2017

BY Alexandria Arnold and Dennis Pettit

 

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  • Friday drop halves dollar’s weekly gain; euro retakes 1.0900

  • Treasury yields near lows for the week as rate-hike bets pared

The dollar fell for a third day after April U.S. retail sales and consumer price data missed estimates, paring its first weekly gain since the start of last month.

The greenback shed modest early gains to trade lower by 0.3 percent. Friday’s dollar drop breached technical support at the 200-DMA for the Bloomberg dollar index, opening the risk of further declines. The dollar fell versus most of its G-10 peers, losing the most against the Swiss franc, which saw broad gains late in the European session.

  • USD/CHF fell as much as 0.9% to below 1.0000, its steepest decline in three weeks, as the CHF advanced vs all of its G-10 peers. CHF gain came amid very muted flows, appeared to be position-driven rather than headline-driven, a trader in London said; position unwinds likely due to inability of EUR/CHF to add gains after a report that the ECB could begin signaling a policy shift around mid-year caught players wrong-footed, the trader said
  • EUR/USD rose to a fresh session high at 1.0934 following the data and remained close by after eclipsing the overnight high at 1.0878. Offers to sell EUR are stacked from 1.0925 to 1.0950, the high of a range that prevailed in the run-up to the French presidential election. The euro is expected to find further offers around 1.1000 and likely near the Monday high at 1.1023 that was seen in Asian trading as the French election outcome became clear
  • ECB’s Praet and Angeloni speak on Monday; traders will watch to see if there is any pushback from the ECB officials to the report on policy signaling. ECB’s Constancio reiterated Thursday that the bank’s policy path is set until year-end though signaling of future steps could begin in the fall
  • USD/JPY is trading ~113.43 after reaching a session low of 113.20. The USD was undercut by a decline in Treasury yields that came as traders pared back bets for a June rate hike after the CPI miss. Stop-loss sell orders were triggered below 113.50, said a trader in London familiar with the transactions who asked not to be identified because not authorized to speak publicly
  • Traders parsed remarks from Fed officials to see whether Friday’s economic reports may have caused a shift in sentiment amid still-high market expectations for a June rate rise. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said that his view is that downside risks to inflation “still predominate,” though the U.S. is probably at full employment. Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker, also a voter this year on the FOMC, said he sees “very little slack” left in the U.S. labor market
  • April retail sales rose 0.4% overall vs estimates for a gain of 0.6% and with an upward revision to the prior month offsetting the miss. At the same time, April CPI rose 0.2% overall, matching estimates, though the ex-food and energy component rose only 0.1% vs estimates for a gain of 0.2%. The dollar was little moved by UofMich sentiment at 97.7 vs est. 97.0

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Dollar starts week under shadow of underwhelming data, North Korea - REUTERS

MAY 15, 2017

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The dollar started the week on the defensive on Monday, after U.S. economic data came in shy of expectations and another missile test by North Korea over the weekend underpinned the perceived safe-haven yen.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was slightly lower on the day at 99.226 .DXY

The dollar slipped 0.1 percent against its Japanese counterpart to 113.28 yen JPY=.

On Monday, North Korea said it had successfully conducted a newly developed mid-to-long range missile test on Sunday, supervised by leader Kim Jong Un and aimed at verifying the capability to carry a "large scale heavy nuclear warhead," according to the North's official KCNA news agency.

The North fired a ballistic missile that landed in the sea near Russia on Sunday in a launch that Washington called a message to South Korea, days after its new president took office pledging to engage Pyongyang in dialogue.

On Friday, U.S. data showed a smaller-than-expected 0.4 percent increase in April retail sales from the previous month, while a disappointing report on consumer prices raised concerns about the retail sector and the broader economy.

"The data was weaker than expected, but not weak enough to keep the dollar under pressure for long," said Mitsuo Imaizumi, Tokyo-based chief foreign-exchange strategist for Daiwa Securities.

"The North Korean missile news over the weekend gave the yen some lift, but not much," he said. "Overall, we see the dollar trading in its recent ranges for the time being, with investors focused on next month's FOMC meeting."

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The Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise interest rates at its meeting next month. The central bank has forecast two more hikes this year after a quarter point increase in March.

The euro edged down 0.1 percent to $1.0924 EUR=.

Net dollar long positions fell in the week ended May 9 to their lowest since early October, according to calculations by Reuters and U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released on Friday. [IMM/FX]

In that week, the euro marked its first net long positioning since early May 2014, as investors breathed a collective sigh of relief following pro-European Emmanuel Macron's victory over anti-EU candidate Marine Le Pen in the second round of France's presidential election on May 7.

 

(Reporting by Tokyo markets team; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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FOREX: CBN assures of more interventions - WORLD STAGE

MAY 14, 2017

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WorldStage Newsonline--  In spite of a lull in FOREX trading activities towards the end of last week, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has assured of its continued intervention in the inter-bank market.

A CBN source revealed that the bank was determined to ensure that the gains made by it in recent times, with regards to the stability of the exchange rate, are not eroded. 

The bank did not make major interventions all through the week ending May 12, 2017, because there was a surfeit of foreign exchange in the system, while the source maintained that the CBN would continue to make necessary interventions to ensure the stability of the naira.

The windows established by the CBN for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as well as for investors and exporters were said to be yielding the desired results by providing access to forex and easing pressure on the market.

Speaking on the matter, the Acting Director of Corporate Communications at the CBN, Isaac Okorafor reiterated the Bank's commitment to ensure that there is enough supply of forex to genuine customers to achieve the goal of forex rates convergence.

The CBN since February 2017 has been involved in massive interventions in all segments of the interbank market to ensure liquidity and availability of forex.

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Inflation to Maintain Downward Streak in April, Say Analysts - THISDAY

MAY 14, 2017

By Kunle  Aderinokun

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With the expected Tuesday’s release of numbers for April consumer price index (CPI) by the National Bureau of Statistics in view, economic analysts and market watchers have released their projections for the index, which gauges inflation. Essentially, they expect to see a continuation of the downward trajectory in the index, which began in February when it plunged to 17.78 per cent (year-on-year) from 18.72 per cent in January and subsequently dropped to 17.26 per cent in March. NBS had attributed the decline for the two consecutive months to the effects of stabilising prices in already high food and non-food prices as well as favourable base effects over 2016 prices.

While The Economic Intelligence Group of Access Bank Plc forecast that the CPI would drop further to 17.05 per cent in April from  the 17.26 per cent level it stood in March, analysts at FSDH Research  has estimated that the CPI would be 17.11 per cent when NBS released the figures on Tuesday. Also, the CEO, Nigeria Competitiveness Council of Nigeria (NCCN), Matthias Chika Mordi, who is also CEO, Accender Strategies,  estimated a CPI of  16.75 per cent for the month in preview  with a 25 basis points error of margin, based on macroeconomic indicators and Q1 surveys.

 

According to the Access Bank analysts, “As usual, our methodology adopts an autoregressive analysis of past prices, while it recognizes all the assumptions used by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its computation of monthly composite consumer price index (CCPI).”

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The analysts noted that the group’s inflation forecast was driven chiefly by anticipated downward movement in the food and core sub-indexes. Besides, they identified price movements for major commodity groups in the food basket which makes up over half of the CPI basket remained muted in April. “Based on an independent survey, vegetable oils, rice, and flour trended downwards, while the price of garri, potatoes and noodles were stable.”

Similarly, they stated that, “Core inflation, which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce, is expected to extend its downward trend in April. This partially reflects the effects of currency appreciation in the parallel market. Month-on-month, the naira appreciated by 8.32 per cent as the Central Bank maintained the tempo of interventions in the forex market.”

On probable market impact of the projected further inflation decline, The Economic Intelligence Group noted that, “With short-term secondary market T-bill yields currently around 16 per cent – 19 per cent, the downtick in inflation may prompt investors to take positions in short term securities and divest from equities.

They also said, “Despite the easing inflation, we expect the apex bank to maintain rates in an attempt to anchor the downward inflation trend. In the March Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) statement, the CBN governor made it clear that loosening the policy rate will worsen price pressures, while tightening of rates would be detrimental to already-weak economic growth.”

As for the FSDH analysts, they said, “Although we noticed increases in the prices of food and non-food classification for the fourth consecutive month, the base effect in the CCPI in April 2016 will be responsible for the drop in the inflation rate.”

According to them, “The Naira gained by 0.16 per cent at the inter-bank market to close at US$/N305.85 while it lost 0.25 per cent at the parallel market to close at US$/N396 at the end of April. The fall in the international prices of food helped to counter the effect of the depreciation in the value of the Naira at the parallel market.

“The appreciation of the Naira in the inter-bank market and the drop in the prices of food at the international market led to a moderation in the prices of consumer goods in Nigeria. The prices of food items that FSDH Research monitored in April 2017 moved in varying directions. The prices of tomatoes, garri, sweet potatoes, beans, Irish potatoes and yam were up by 56.78 per cent, 8.47 per cent, 6.94 per cent, 6.08 per cent, 5.64 per cent and 3.33 per cent respectively.

“Meanwhile, the prices of onions, vegetable oil, palm oil, rice, meat and fish were down by 27.11 per cent, 7.78 per cent, 6.67 per cent, 2.48 per cent, 2.22 per cent and 1.33 per cent respectively. The movement in the prices of food items during the month resulted in 2 per cent increase in our Food and Non-Alcoholic Index to 234.34 points.

“We also noticed increase in the prices of Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas & Other Fuels divisions between March 2017 and April 2017. Our model indicates that the general price movements in the consumer goods and services in April 2017 would increase the Composite Consumer Price Index (CCPI) to 226.01 points, representing a month-on-month increase of 1.48 per cent.

“We estimate that the increase in the CCPI in April will produce an inflation rate of 17.11 per cent lower than the 17.26 per cent recorded in March 2017.”

In their view, analysts at Eczellon Capital expect the April 2017 inflation rate (year-on-year) “to ease slightly given the marginal drop in the prices of some food and non-food items and CBN’s intervention in the Forex market.”

“Consequently, the Apex Bank had introduced an Investors and Exporters Window (IEW) poised to boost liquidity in the FX market and ensure timely execution and settlement of eligible transactions for manufacturers and related constituents. Prior to CBN’s intervention, the cost of accessing the FX was extremely high as it was mirrored in the prices of items. “Conversely, participants in the FX market are now accessing the FX via the CBN’s IEW at a relatively affordable price and without exhausting same. By implication, the IEW has led to the reduction in cost of production and has translated to the marginal decline in the prices of items. Additionally, the recent manufacturing PMI for April 2017 indicates that the manufacturing sector had advanced at 51.1 index points showing expansion in the manufacturing sector after three months of contraction, though the non-manufacturing sector dragged sluggishly at 49.5 relative to 47.1 index points. Subsequently, the improvements in these sectors spur us to believe that the costs of items in the market are retracting gradually,” the analysts explained. 

Furthermore, the Eczellon Capital analysts added, “the historical behaviour of Nigeria’s inflation rate over the past three months had shown a downward trajectory of 0.94 per cent point and 0.52 per cent point for February and March apiece. For that reason, we foresee the CPI plunging further in April 2017.”

Also, in his projection, Chief Executive Officer, The CFG Advisory Ltd, Adetilewa Adebajo, is hopeful of a continuity in the downward trend in CPI “provided the CBN continues with its policies aimed at improving forex liquidity, Naira/$ rate appreciates further, and fiscal stimulus is maintained.” 

“We can therefore estimate a further downward trajectory in consumer price index, however, by smaller percentage points relative to the first two months, due to relative stability in prices of some food items and falling demand for other items. 

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“Month-to-Month inflation still on the rise. There appears to be the need to monitor CPI for the next few months to fully ascertain the downward trend in inflation,” Adebajo pointed out.

“Month-to-Month inflation still on the rise. There appears to be the need to monitor CPI for the next few months to fully ascertain the downward trend in inflation,” Adebajo pointed out.

BRIEFS

Domestic Flight

 Domestic flight operations declined by 67 per cent in the first quarter of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority said. NCAA’s Consumer Protection Department, in a document on Monday, disclosed that 10,366 flights operated in the first quarter of 2017 compared to 15,434 flights operated in 2016 by the same eight domestic airlines. The domestic airlines, the agency said, are Aero Contractors, Arik Air, Air Peace, Azman Air, Dana Air, First Nation, Med-View, and Overland.

 

Gas supply

 Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and its partners evolved a scheme to grow gas supply for domestic consumption by 285 per cent. NNPC said this in a statement by its Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Ndu Ughamadu, in Abuja on Wednesday. Ughamadu said the gas growth was expected to rise from three billion standard cubic feet per day (scf/d) to five billion standard cubic feet per day (scf/d) by 2020. NNPC said the federal government had directed it to aggressively pursue gas development to aid the country’s economic development.

 

BoI

 The Bank of Industry introduced zero-interest loans for members of the National Youth Service Corps under its Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund programme. BOI said the zero per cent interest, from 9% previously charged, was part of measures to encourage entrepreneurship and aid business growth. According to BOI, the GEF scheme, being implemented in partnership with the NYSC, is currently on the second edition and has recorded over N262.9 million disbursements to 177 successful candidates. The bank said the zero per cent interest charge took effect from May 1.

 

Capital Market 

Securities and Exchange Commission set aside N5 billion as seed capital for the take-off of the proposed Nigerian Capital Market Development Fund. The commission warned that it would henceforth prosecute investors who use false identity for share subscription. The apex capital market authority also indicated that its shares dematerialisation programme had run its full course, achieving a 100 per cent dematerialisation of shares with over 2.2 million investors mandating their accounts for e-dividend.

 

Leasing industry

Leasing firms in the country braved the odds and generated N1.26 trillion in 2016. The industry recorded 14 per cent growth in outstanding lease volume from N1.1 trillion in 2015. Consequently, experts believed the Nigerian leasing industry had remained vibrant and continued to provide succour to many organisations across all sectors of the economy, despite the current economic difficulties. Stakeholders said leasing was still attractive to new investors with massive diversification by existing players in the industry.

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NAFEX: The Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Rate Fixing Methodology - FMDQ

APRIL 24, 2017

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1. INTRODUCTION

This document provides a summary of the methodology that FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange (“FMDQ”) applies to establish NAFEX - the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Rate Fixing.

2. BACKGROUND FMDQ

This is an over-the-counter (“OTC”) securities exchange with a mission to empower the financial markets to be innovative and credible, in support of the Nigerian economy. This mission is achieved by providing the secondary market with a world-class market governance and development service to the benefit of market participants and in support of the objectives of the financial services regulators.

Consequently, FMDQ is committed to developing and publishing independent and transparent benchmarks which are reasonably designed to be reflective of the market at the time of the fix and promote transparency in the OTC markets. FMDQ Fixings meet the requirements of domestic regulations as well as the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (“IOSCO”) Principles for Financial Benchmarks on governance, quality of the methodology and accountability mechanisms.

NAFEX is the FMDQ benchmark rate for Foreign Exchange (“FX”) spot operations in the Investors’ & Exporters’ FX Window (hereinafter referred to as the “Window”). NAFEX is designed and generated independently and objectively and also published every business day at a specific time.

2.1. Uses of NAFEX

An FX fixing is an essential component of the Nigerian financial system. Its importance to the financial industry and other non-financial sectors arises from the impact of a country’s exchange rate on almost all sectors of the economy.

NAFEX will benefit the Nigerian economy in general and the financial industry in particular in a number of ways, including:

▪ Serving as a fixing for the settlement of FX derivatives

▪ Promoting transparency and awareness of USD/NGN rates

▪ Enabling foreign and local investors benefit from a market-driven independent reference rate

▪ Increasing forward contracts usage towards a reduction of investments in currency principals and foreign currency line utilisation

▪ Developing hedge products and derivatives, thus improving the standard of the Nigerian FX market

▪ Providing growth and income potentials for market players through the trading of hedging products ▪ Serving as a benchmark for portfolio valuations, conversions, performance measurement and audits.

2.2. Key Considerations

2.2.1. Benchmark Administrator FMDQ is the benchmark administrator for NAFEX and thus has primary responsibility for all aspects of the benchmark determination process. This process includes the development, determination, dissemination, operation and governance of NAFEX.

2.2.2. Active Market

FMDQ recognises that to enable the publication of a meaningful benchmark, a market in the currency pair represented by the benchmark must genuinely exist and that market must be active. However, the economic realities will dictate the relative meaning of what ‘active’ means, as market liquidity can vary significantly at particular times of the day. FMDQ applies the IOSCO Principles for Financial Benchmarks 7 & 8 – “Data Sufficiency” & “Hierarchy of Data Inputs” in determining thresholds for an “active market.”

2.2.3. Data Sourcing

FMDQ may use transactional data entered into on an arm’s length basis between buyers and sellers in the market, where that data is available and reflects sufficient liquidity. In a market where liquidity levels are low, the benchmark may be based predominantly or exclusively on contributed quotes.

2.2.4. Governance and Transparency

FMDQ is subject to a corporate risk framework which is based on three (3) lines of risk management:

i. Business procedures and controls are designed to promote consistency throughout the process

ii. The application of independent governance, reporting and risk management. The Board of Directors and relevant Board Committees are responsible for oversight of FMDQ Fixings, including reviewing and advising on the policies and methodologies by which FMDQ calculates, administers and publishes the Fixing.

iii. FMDQ Fixings are discussed and adopted by an Oversight Committee i.e. the Market Review Committee, consisting of members of the FMDQ Management Team who perform the required due diligence on the proprietary Fixings. Furthermore, in line with the IOSCO Principles for Financial Benchmarks, FMDQ shall publish submitted quotes received from contributing banks with the eliminated quotes identified.

2.2.5. Exercise of Expert Judgment

FMDQ may exercise discretion on the use of data in determining a Fixing. The calculation of a Fixing includes a validation process whereby, among other steps, FMDQ reviews data and fixes rates under certain pre-determined tolerance checks. When applying tolerance checks, FMDQ has the discretion (subject to internal policies and procedures) to include or reject certain data from the calculation of the Fixing.

Based on FMDQ’s experience in interpreting market data, FMDQ shall apply expert judgment when necessary with the intent of ensuring the quality and integrity of the benchmark rate. Consequently, FMDQ has put in place internal guidelines and quality control procedures that govern the application of “Expert Judgment” and are intended to provide consistency and oversight to the process.

3. FIXING DYNAMICS

3.1. Fixing Methodology - NAFEX Spot Rate NAFEX Spot rates shall be determined as detailed below and contributing banks shall be expected to submit only ‘professional spot quotes’. Where a contributing bank submits an unprofessional quote, such a quote will automatically be disqualified from the NAFEX computation. Contributing banks shall quote single rates for transaction sizes of $5,000,000.00 and above or as advised by FMDQ, at the time of the poll.

3.1.1. NAFEX is a polled rate based on the submissions of ten (10) contributing banks and calculated using a trimmed arithmetic mean. Upon receipt of quotes, the individual contributing banks’ submission is ranked in descending order. The lowest and highest two (2) quotes are eliminated from the ranked rates leaving only the middle six (6) rates. The arithmetic mean of the remaining rates are then calculated to two (2) decimal places and disseminated as the NAFEX Spot Rate.

3.1.2. NAFEX shall be published daily by 12:00noon. 3.1.3. Where FMDQ receives fewer than the required number of submissions by the time NAFEX is due for publication, the reduced submissions methodology detailed below shall apply: i. NAFEX will be published provided that two (2) or more quotes are obtained on a daily basis ii. The calculation methodology shall remain the same irrespective of the number of submissions received. 

3.13 If data remains insufficient by 12:00 noon, FMDQ shall activate the NAFEX Contingency plan as detailed below.

3.2. Contingency Plan

3.2.1. In instances where there are quotes below the documented threshold, the previous day’s NAFEX shall be maintained and published as the current NAFEX.

3.2.2. In circumstances of a force majeure event, leading to the unavailability of quotes in the market, the previous day’s NAFEX will be maintained and published as the current NAFEX.

3.2.3. Any republished rates from the previous business day shall be identified as such on the FMDQ1 eMarkets Portal.

3.2.4. After five (5) consecutive business days of republishing the previous day’s NAFEX (in this case, the NAFEX of 5 business days prior), an FMDQ Market Review Committee meeting shall be convened in a special session to devise a strategy for the appropriate determination of future NAFEX during the extreme market condition, towards preserving the continuity of the NAFEX publication.

4. PUBLICATION NAFEX

Spot Rate is available in three (3) packages – Real-time, 24-hour Delayed and Historical:

▪ Live Fix: Available at 12:00 noon daily via the FMDQ e-Markets Portal

▪ Delayed (24 hours): Published via the FMDQ website2

▪ Historical: Available via the FMDQ e-Markets Portal

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Pound Sterling Always Rallies in April - but this Year will be Different Warn Analysts - PSL

APRIL 09, 2017
  • Written by Will Peters

Historically, the British Pound tends to rally in April.

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For the last 12 years without fail, GBP has rallied against the USD with an average monthly gain of 2.2%.

The currency has also done well against the Euro.

The observation has many in the analytical industry understandablyconfident that this April will be no different and that we should therefore expect the UK currency to rise.

But the reasons for this outperformance in April is yet to find any plausible theories and analyst David Bloom at HSBC says he is reluctant to rely upon it and modelling the Pound’s potential direction over coming weeks.

Indeed, Bloom rightly points out that the UK is a very different place in April 2017 than it was in previous Aprils. “The vote for Brexit was a game-changer,” says Bloom.

Bloom does not know why Sterling is favoured by April, but history alone is no reason to suggest this is a set-in-stone rule.

Oliver Harvey at Deutsche Bank says a potential reason for Sterling’s historical outperformance in April relates to dividends.

“After annual reporting in the first quarter, April is often the month when dividends fall due. With over two thirds of FTSE 100 earnings made abroad, cash must be repatriated to pay them,” says Harvey.

Harvey does warn that the divergence between high dividends payments and the declining profitability of UK-listed firms might mean this April’s payouts are limited when compared to previous instances.

The analyst notes that for years now UK corporates have been handing out cash to shareholders at the expense of reinvestment which must at some point be rectified.

As such Deutsche Bank reckon there are many years of underinvestment to catch up with and firms are tipped to hold onto cash which in turn could see less demand for Sterling on global foreign exchange markets.

Added to this, Harvey also notes an increasingly smaller proportion of dividends are being paid back in GBP.

“The share of Sterling dividends is likely to fall further as companies seek to reduce the currency exposure of payouts,” says Harvey. “In short, while the weather is unlikely to improve, sterling's strong April performance may be less of a factor than in the past.”

 

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Sell the Pound on Rallies

HSBC have made a tactical recommendation to clients that they consider selling the British Pound on any rallies in anticipation of an intensification of political risk, the structural headwind of the current account deficit and possible signs of softness in the economic cycle.

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HSBC have previously recommended that GBP-USD is to be sold at 1.2540 - very close to the 1.2450 seen at the time of writing.

“Those not already engaged in GBP may be tempted to wait for better levels to sell, somewhere in the 1.2700-1.2850 region where it last topped out,” says Bloom.

The tactical call to sell the Pound on strength contrasts to the view held at Barclays that the Pound is a buy against the Euro.

We do note the duration of the Barclays call is however shorter in duration.

Economics to Weigh Against Sterling

Looking at the fundamental reasons to engage against Sterling, HSBC eye the mid-March boost given to the currency by the Bank of England which surprised markets by hinting that the next move on interest rates would be to raise them.

One member of the Bank’s decision-making committee - Kristin Forbes - actually voted for a rise at the March meeting.

But, HSBC believe the boost given to GBP from the hawkish shift in rate expectations is vulnerable to a reversal.

“The dissenting vote of Forbes at the last MPC meeting came against a run of upside activity data surprises in January and February,” says Bloom.

Those have now petered out in March with the activity surprise index tracking sideways with leading indicator data turning softer and suggesting a slowdown in economic activity over coming months.

While the upside surprise in inflation data gave an extra boost Sterling  bulls HSBC argue this sentiment is misplaced.

“The rise in inflation is a dovish signal under current circumstances because of the squeeze it poses on real spending power. Wages growth is stuck; inflation is not,” says Bloom.

HSBC think the extra 18bp of tightening the market has added to its expectations for December 2018 are likely to reverse as the data and Bank of England rhetoric delivers a push back.

“This will be significant for GBP/USD as the currency has traded as a cyclical currency so far in 2017, tracking the daily vagaries of the interest rate differential between the UK and US. Once the political risk of an early Brexit negotiation standoff and the structural headwind from the current account deficit are added, we could have all three drivers pointing to GBP weakness,” says Bloom.

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Some Bearish Forecasts for the Pound

HSBC forecast the Pound to Dollar exchange rate to be at 1.15 by mid-2017 ahead of a fall to 1.12 by the end of September and 1.10 by year-end.

The EUR/GBP exchange rate is forecast at 0.91 by mid-2017, 0.96 by September and 1.00 by the end of 2017.

From a Pound to Euro exchange rate perspective this equates to 1.0981, 1.0416 and, well, 1.0.

These are certainly amongst the more bearish forecasts in the analyst community out there and aligns closely to the views held at bears Deutsche Bank.

It might be no wonder then that two major Sterling bears are not buying the idea that the Pound will follow historical precedent and rise this April.

At the time of writing the Pound to Euro exchange rate is quoted at 1.1705.

The Pound to Dollar exchange rate is quoted at 1.2480.

Sterling caught its first tailwind of the week against the dollar thanks to data showing the fastest growth in three months for a sector of the U.K. economy that matters most.

Services growth unexpectedly accelerated in March which for now helped to allay worries of Brexit putting a brake on the economy.

Upside for the Pound could prove limited ahead of more big ticket U.K. numbers in the days ahead on trade, due Friday, and next week when inflation and unemployment print on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

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NAIRA WARS: THE CENTRAL BANK STRIKES BACK - abokiFX

FEBRUARY 25, 2017

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The Central Bank has found new muscle with the introduction of its new FX policy. The policy will see all banks receive a total of $20m weekly, to sell to the public at N375 /$1 thereby reducing the pressure on the parallel market.

CBN suffered the humiliation of not being able to respond to the dire demand for dollars in the country since late 2016 forcing the naira to spiral out of control.

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CBN introduced IMTOs and empowered them to distribute $15,000 per week which was later slashed to $8,000 per week per BDC. AbokiFX field agents confirmed that the $8,000 dollars a week they receive barely last 60 minutes.

abokiFX observed that the Central Bank, who had been pushed to the wall since the start of 2017  decided to fight back aggressively on all fronts by using a combination of spots, forwards, price discounts and media announcements by selling $41m spot rates, $600m forwards contracts at rates below the parallel market and announcing a new FX policy.

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abokiFX believes with a restored reserve approaching the $30bn threshold with further prospects of future growth, there is enough muscle to fight off any speculative demand in the market and ensure moderate liquidity is sustained on a weekly basis through multiple channels.

CBN has also called for back up from the banks to join the fight to strengthen the naira by instructing the banks to be located in BDC territories such as inside the airports, to provide liquidity penetration to customers. AbokiFX sees some conflict of interest occurring here initially but might be mitigated in the long run.

abokiFX research team will monitor closely what the impact of the new FX policy will have on the rates and liquidity volume in the peak seasons, as that would be the real test of the return of the Naira.

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HIGH TRAFFIC BUT LOW CURRENCY VOLUMES - abokiFX Research

FEBRUARY 24, 2017

TODAY'S MARKET OBSERVATION

abokiFX Research   24/02/2017

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  • Market in chaos as rate fluctuation confuses traders.
  • A lot of customers trying to sell but traders not buying at high rates anymore.
  • Traders and customers weeping from loss in exchange rate.
  • Traders are not able to sell existing stock at low rates as the loss would be catastophic.
  • Traders willing to buy are buying limited volumes at discounted rates.
  • Volume traded per individual is low compared to standard trading days.
  • Customers trooping in to sell their stock are not impressed witht the rates. While some deal, others do not. The observed deals are light.
  • The weekend could not have come at a better time for some traders as they try to grasp the reality of the CBN's New FX Policy.

Market observations compiled by abokiFX Research Team.

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PANIC OVERWHELMS THE PARALLEL MARKET AS TRADERS BEAR HEAVY LOSSES - abokiFX

FEBRUARY 24, 2017

Parallel market traders are turning customers away as they refuse to buy any foreign currency.

Those willing to buy off customers are offering low rates for the dollar and refusing to take on any large volume.

Traders are also reluctant to sell at low prices but those that have panicked are willing to offload low volumes as well at $460.

abokiFX  field agents believe that customers who usually source forex from the parallel market are now heading to the banks to take advantage of the reduced rates from the CBN.

abokiFX field agents have confirmed that RATES ARE UNSTABLE AT THE MOMENT AND ADVICE THAT TRADES SHOULD BE DONE OUT OF NECESSITY RATHER THAN PANIC.

FEBRUARY 2017 FOREIGN RESERVES IN USD - AbokiFX CHART

FEBRUARY 18, 2017

BY ABOKIFX RESEARCH

  • FOREIGN RESERVE RECOVERY NOT YET IMPACTING THE EXCHANGE RATE OF THE NAIRA AS NAIRA SPIRALS OUT OF CONTROL. 
  • ABOKIFX RESEARCH TEAM BELIEVES THERE IS A POSSIBLITY THE CENTRAL BANK COULD DEFEND THE NAIRA ONCE A FOREIGN RESERVE THRESHOLD IS REACHED.
  • CRUDE OIL PRODUCTION VOLUME IS AT 2 MILLION BARRELS A DAY WITH OIL PRICE STEADILY ABOVE $50 A BARREL. THIS EXPLAINS THE FAST RECOVERY OF THE RESERVE.
  • abokiFX RESEARCH TEAM WILL WATCH FOR EARLY SIGNS OF CBN INTERVENTION IN THE FX MARKET AS THE CHART SHOWS WE COULD BE HEADING BACK IN THAT DIRECTION. HOW SOON THOUGH, WOULD DEPEND ON A RESERVE THRESHOLD GOOD ENOUGH TO TRIGGER AN INTERVENTION.. 

 

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Expert urges CBN to reduce MPR – The Guardian

FEBRUARY 01, 2017

Dr Samuel Nzekwe, finance expert, has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria to reduce the Monetary Policy Rate currently at 13 per cent in order to boost the economy.

Nzekwe, former President, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Ota, Ogun, that the higher MPR had eroded the purchasing power of most Nigerians.

NAN reports that the Monetary Policy Committee of CBN had at its two-day meeting in Abuja on Tuesday retained the MPR at 13 per cent.

According to him, the interest rate charged by the commercial banks was too high, making businesses difficult to do in the country.

“The Federal Government needs to create enabling environment by providing lower interest rate and address critical infrastructure deficiency for industries to thrive’’, the ex-ANAN boss said.

According to him, Nigeria is experiencing cost push inflation, the result of higher cost of production of goods and services.

Nzekwe said devaluation of the nation’s currency was a major factor that affected the high cost of production.

“Goods and services are available but people have no money to buy them because the recession made people to be worse off’’, he said.

He, therefore, advised the CBN to reduce interest rate so that investors could access cheap loans, reduced cost of production and create more employment.

This, he said, would boost the Gross Domestic Product and eradicate poverty level in the country.

Sterling stumbles to first three-day fall of year – Reuters

JANUARY 30, 2017

By Jemima Kelly and Marc Jones | LONDON

Britain’s pound weakened on Monday, marking its first three-day fall against the dollar this year and putting it on the back foot ahead of Thursday’s first Bank of England meeting of 2017.

“Super Thursday” will see the central bank, which cut interest rates to a record low of 0.25 percent after the June referendum on EU membership, present its quarterly inflation report along with its decision on monetary policy.

Inflation has accelerated as sterling has shed 12 percent since the Brexit vote on a trade-weighted basis. This has led to market talk that the BoE may take a more hawkish tilt and even signal that it is moving closer to raising rates from their current record low of 0.25 percent.

A Reuters poll last week, however, found most economists expect the BoE to leave its rates and other stimulus measures unchanged at least until 2019. Even though it is likely to raise its growth forecasts, uncertainty over soon-to-start Brexit negotiations mean it will likely remain cautious.]

“(Bank of England Governor Mark) Carney will probably reiterate his line that there are limits to tolerance of above-target inflation,” said BNP Paribas currency strategist Sam Lynton-Brown.

“If that rhetoric occurs at the same time of potential upward revisions to growth forecasts and maybe even inflation forecasts, that will prompt the market to increase its pricing for the probability of a Bank of England rate hike by the end of this year.”

Sterling slipped off a five-week high of $1.2674 at the end of last week, and by 1545 GMT on Monday had fallen another 0.2 percent on the day to $1.2525, as worries over a travel plan implemented by U.S. President Donald Trump drove a risk-off mode across markets.

Against a broadly weaker euro, the pound inched up 0.1 percent to 85.13 pence, close to a four-week high.

Crédit Agricole FX Strategist Manuel Oliveri forecast sterling would struggle following a recent mini-rally, with Brexit uncertainty to remain the main driver and data also likely to weaken.

“We don’t think the (BoE) inflation report will be a big shock,” he said. “It may sound a bit more hawkish but it still remains cautious.”

“A lot more is needed to push the needle” for the bank to start considering a move in interest rates, he added.

The pound has fallen roughly 19 percent against the dollar since June’s Brexit vote, but for the last few months it has been in a relatively restrained range of between $1.20 and $1.28 and 84 pence and 88 pence per euro.

(Editing by Richard Lough)

FOREX-U.S. travel ban row halts dollar recovery – Reuters

JANUARY 28, 2017

* Yen moves higher after row over U.S. immigration order

* Moves put focus back on risks of Trump’s protectionism

* Weaker-than-expected U.S. GDP halted dollar gains on Friday

* Monetary policy in focus as BOJ, Fed and BoE meet this week (Adds German inflation data, updates prices)

By Patrick Graham

LONDON, Jan 30 The dollar dipped on Monday as investors sought the traditional security of the Japanese yen after new U.S. immigration curbs put the spotlight back on President Donald Trump’s protectionist bent and the risks it poses for the economy.

The dollar had begun to climb at the end of last week after its worst month in five, as expectations of higher inflation and tax cuts to spur growth under the new president pushed U.S. government bond yields higher.

That was halted by a combination of weaker-than-expected U.S. economic growth data on Friday and the uproar that followed Trump’s order restricting entry to the United States for travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations.

“Concerns on protectionism appear to be rising after President Trump’s executive order to restrict immigration,” said Adam Cole, head of G10 FX strategy with RBC in London.

After an Asian session becalmed by Chinese New Year holidays, the yen rose 0.4 percent to 114.58 yen per dollar in morning trade in Europe. The greenback was flat at $1.0695 per euro and marginally higher at $1.2537 against sterling.

The euro drew some support from a rise in European government bond yields to their highest in a year after regional data showed solid rises in annual German inflation. That came at the start of a week dominated by central bank meetings in the United States, Japan and Britain.

The bond market, however, also suggested euro investors were pricing in more risk from France’s presidential election in April after the selection of a more radical leftist candidate by the French Socialists at the weekend.

A stronger dollar was one of 2017’s big calls for many investment banks and asset managers at the end of last year but that faith has been undermined by worries about how U.S. trade and diplomacy will pan out under Trump’s presidency.

At the top of the list are concerns that the new administration may actively pursue a weaker dollar as part of efforts to change its trading relationship with China and others.

“The weak U.S. GDP is doing the dollar no favours. But it also takes courage to keep buying the dollar, considering what Trump has said about the kind of a currency policy he could pursue,” said Daisuke Karakama, market economist at Mizuho Bank in Tokyo.

For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=http://emea1.apps.cp.extranet.thomsonreuters.biz/cms/?pageId=livemarkets (Additional reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro in Tokyo; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Forex: Naira appreciation in forwards market indicates rising confidence – Vanguard

FEBRUARY 01, 2016

By Babajide Komolafe

THE naira appreciated in the forwards segment of the foreign exchange market indicating rising confidence buoyed by recent increases in the nation’s foreign reserves. ADVERTISING Meanwhile, prices of Nigeria’s Eurobond maintained downward trend for the third consecutive week due to persistent selling pressure. Naira appreciates in forwards market Data from the Financial Dealers Market Quote (FMDQ) show that the naira exchange rate for one month forward contracts dropped to N315.34 on Friday from N320.18 per dollar the previous week, indicating N4.84 or 1.5 percent appreciation for the naira. Highest appreciation Similarly, exchange rate for two months forward contracts dropped to N323.27 from N330.54 per dollar, indicating N7.27 or 2.20 per cent appreciation for the naira.

The naira also appreciated by N14.57 or 4.20 percent for three months forward contracts, as the exchange rate dropped to N331.53 from N346.1 per dollar. Naira The naira recorded its highest appreciation for six months forward contracts, appreciating by N29 or 7.67 per cent, as the exchange rate dropped to N323.27 from N378 per dollar. The naira also recorded marginal appreciation of 0.08 percent for spot transactions where the exchange rate edged down to N305.25 per dollar from N305.5 per dollar in the previous week.

According to analysts at Cowry Assets Management Limited, the naira appreciation in the forwards market suggests future stability in the foreign exchange market amidst rising foreign reserves. The nation’s foreign reserves have been an  upward trajectory since October 18th 2016 courtesy of increase in crude oil prices inspired by the production cut deal agreed by OPEC members. According to data by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the foreign reserves rose by $5 billion from $23.96 billion on October 18th 2016 to $28.9 billion on Tuesday January 24th 2017.

CBN defends forex policy CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele however insisted that the apex bank would maintain its policy of selling 60 percent of available foreign exchange to manufacturers, and continued to intervene in the interbank foreign exchange market to moderate the exchange rate of the naira. Addressing the press on the outcome of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting on Tuesday, Emefiele said: “I am happy to say that het reserve today is $28.9 billion. It is exciting to see this happen.   But is there a need to float the Naira?   It is important to note that we have to manage the reserve.    

That means from time to time we will intervene in the market to make sure the exchange rate does not go beyond our expectations   and those interventions will be to moderate the rates as necessary. “The fact that we have begun to see some accretions to the reserves does not mean we have to be reckless.   We will continue the policy of ensuring that foreign exchange is made available to those who are importing raw materials, plants and equipment, those supporting the agricultural sector and not those who want to engage in what I can regard as less important sectors.” Eurobond maintains downward trajectory On the other hand, prices of Nigeria’s Eurobond dropped for the third consecutive week, indicating investors may be dumping the bonds.

According to the closing prices and yields of Nigeria’s Eurobond posted by the Debt Management Office (DMO): The 10-year, 6.75 percent Jan 28, 2021 bond lost $.68 while the yield rose to 5.932 percent; the 5-year, 5.13 percent July 12, 2018 bonds lost $.32 while the yield rose to 3.67 per cent; the 10-year, 6.38 per cent July 12, 2023 also lost $0.77 while the yield rose to 6.59 per cent. CBN to sell N242bn treasury bills Meanwhile the CBN will this week sell treasury bills worth N242.4 billion in continuation of liquidity mop up operations.

The treasury bills comprise N45.18 billion worth of 91 day bills, N80 billion worth of 182 days bills, and N117.2 billion worth of 364 days bills. This of course is to moderate the liquidity effect of the inflow of N218.36 billion through payment for matured treasury bills this week. The matured treasury bills comprise N21.15 billion worth of 91 days bills, N80 billion worth of 182 days bills, N117.2 billion worth of 364 bills and N72.9 billion worth of 185 days bills. The combined effect of these developments is expected to moderate down cost of funds in the interbank money market. Last week cost of funds rose marginally despite inflow of N400 billion from statutory allocation funds.

The impact of the inflow was subdued by outflows through treasury bills and FGN bonds auction during the week. Although interest rate on Overnight borrowing dropped  to 5.5 per cent last week from 11.63 percent the previous week, the interest rate for I month, 3 month and 6 month borrowing rose respectively to 17.86 per cent  (from 17.73), 19.50 percent (from 19.12) and 23.14 percent (from 22.21). Seventh OTC FX Futures Contract matures, settles on FMDQ The 7th Naira-settled OTC FX Futures contract, NG/US JAN 25 2017, with amount $274.39 million, matured and settled on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 on FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange, bringing the total value of contracts so far matured on the OTC Exchange to circa $1.80 billion, and about $5.46 billion  worth of OTC FX Futures contracts traded so far.

Designated clearing agent The contract, which stopped trading on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, was valued against the Nigerian Inter-Bank Foreign Exchange Fixing (NIFEX) Spot rate as published by FMDQ on January 25, 2017, with the associated clearing/settlement effected by the FMDQ-designated clearing agent, the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System PLC (NIBSS), in line with the FMDQ OTC FX Futures Market Operational Standards. Whilst businesses, corporates, and other market participants desirous of hedging their FX exposures continue to key into this product, it is expected that the potential of the OTC FX Futures market will be further maximised during the course of the year. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the other hand, introduced a new contract, NGUS JAN 31 2018, for $1.00bn at $/N281.50 to replace the matured contract and also repriced its quotes on the existing one to 11-month contracts.

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