(Adds details, overnight rate, background)
LAGOS Jan 13 The Nigerian naira fell close to
500 against the dollar on the unapproved open retail market due
to dollar shortages on Friday as retail currency operators set
their quotes for dollar purchases at 399 for next week, traders
Bureau de change operators said the central bank had
approved 399 naira for retail trades next week, their
association said in an internal memo seen by Reuters.
The government has been pressing retail operators to narrow
what it says is a damaging gulf between the naira's
official rate - currently at 305 to the dollar - and the
unapproved open retail market - which hit 497 on Friday.
Traders said FX bureaus were yet to receive dollars from
international money transfer agents this year worsening forex
liquidity on the market.
However, money markets were awash with naira liquidity on
Friday pushing overnight lending rates 2.5 percentage point down
to 7 percent.
Aminu Gwadabe, president of the Bureau de Change association
told Reuters, he expected dollar supplies to resume next week.
On Tuesday the operators set their first ever reference
exchange rate for the naira at 399 per dollar, to try to improve
liquidity and help rebuild investors' confidence ahead of a
meeting with the central bank.
Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele told retail operators
in a meeting on Thursday that he was looking at ways to boost
liquidity to eliminate the spread at the parallel market and
would not devalue the naira again.
The naira lost a third of its official value against the
greenback in 2016 after the bank scrapped a currency peg in a
bid to alleviate dollar shortages. On the unapproved open
market, the naira is worth about 40 percent less than the
Retail currency operators account for less than 5 percent of
total foreign currency trading in Nigeria. But with liquidity
poor on the official market due to low oil revenues and the
central bank left as the main dollar supplier, the bureau de
changes have done more business.
(Reporting by Oludare Mayowa and Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by