(Adds FX volume on spot market, sales to firms)
By Oludare Mayowa and Chijioke Ohuocha
LAGOS May 2 Nigeria's central bank is working
to make exchange rates for its currency converge on the official
and black markets, its spokesman said, and plans to offer $100
million on the forward market on Tuesday to boost liquidity.
Nigeria runs a system of multiple exchange rates, and the
central bank has sold more than $4 billion on the spot and
forward markets in its efforts to increase liquidity. In theory,
greater liquidity should lead the rates to converge.
The naira was quoted weaker on Tuesday at an investor
trading window, at 380.31 per dollar, data from market regulator
FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange showed. The official market rate
was 305.85 and the black-market rate 390.
On the spot interbank market, the naira traded a total of
$51.68 million, volumes last seen in October 2016.
"The bank is committed and is indeed working to achieve
convergence in the forex rates between the interbank and the
bureau de change segment," said spokesman Isaac Okorafor.
The central bank said all dollar allotments must be backed
by demand and that it will settle Tuesday's dollar sale between
one week and 45 days after the sale.
It then said it would intervene with an undisclosed amount
to clear a backlog of demand for airlines, raw materials and
machinery and that it would debit the companies for the naira
equivalent of the dollar amount immediately.
The bank offered $100 million last Thursday but ended up
selling $85.69 million. Okorafor said in a statement lenders did
not take up the whole offer as there was "enough foreign
exchange to meet legitimate demand".
Analysts doubt whether the central bank can sustain such
sales. The convoluted exchange rate system masks pressure on the
naira with the regulator trying to avoid a devaluation.
Okorafor said the bank has the capacity to sustain its
Nigeria's dollar reserves grew to a 19-month high of $30.8
billion last week, thanks to a recent rise in global oil prices,
the country's main source of hard currency. But reserves remain
far off the peak of $64 billion reached in August 2008.
(Additional reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja; Writing by
Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Mark Heinrich)