(Adds central bank statement)
LAGOS, April 24 Nigeria's central bank offered
$150 million in currency forwards at an auction on Monday, it
said in a statement, part of its efforts to narrow the spread
between official and black market exchange rates and improve
foreign exchange liquidity.
Traders, citing a notice from the central bank, said
settlement will be between one week and 45 days. The sale will
be via a wholesale auction to meet forex demand from businesses.
The central bank has been intervening on the official market
to try to narrow the spread between the two markets since
intervention began in February and has sold about $4 billion,
analysts say, a pace they doubt it can sustain.
The central bank also said on Monday it offered $52 million
to small and medium enterprises to help them access foreign
currency, needed for imports, and $44.2 million for travel and
medical fees, among other services.
In a circular cited by Reuters on Monday, the bank also said
it will now allow investors to engage in foreign exchange
trading at rates the buyers and sellers set, a move it hopes
will increase the amount of dollars available.
The president of Nigeria's association of bureaus de change
said its group has already started consultations with some
foreign investors with a view to increase dollar supply on the
parallel segment of the market.
Aminu Gwadabe said retail currency bureaus are trying to
attract more foreign capital with the cooperation of the central
bank, to boost dollar liquidity and provide support for the
On the official market, the currency was quoted at 306 per
dollar, and at 381 per dollar on the black market.
(Reporting by Oludare Mayowa; Additional reporting by Paul
Carsten in Abuja; Editing by Larry King)