July 16, 2012 / 2:53 PM / 5 years ago

Nigerian naira firms on Shell, NLNGs dollar sales

LAGOS, July 16 (Reuters) - Nigeria’s naira currency firmed against the U.S dollar on the interbank market on Monday, supported by ample dollar sales by two energy companies to some lenders.

The local currency closed at 161.60 versus the dollar on the interbank market, stronger than the 162.10 to the dollar it closed at on Friday.

Traders said units of Royal Dutch Shell and Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) company sold unspecified amount of dollars to some lenders, which raised the level of dollar liquidity in the market and provided support for the naira.

“Apart from the dollar inflows from Shell and NLNG, speculations on planned dollar sales this week by the NNPC (state-owned energy company) also helped the market rally,” one dealer said.

NNPC supplies the bulk of dollars traded on the interbank market and comes to the market twice in a month.

Traders said the naira is seen strengthening further in the week if the NNPC finally come to the market with some other oil companies sales as well.

On the bi-weekly forex auction, the central bank sold $200 million at $155.87 to the dollar, compared with $180 million sold at the same rate last Wednesday’s auction.

The currency of Africa’s second biggest economy had closed weaker last week due to resurgence of demand for the dollar from importers and a drop in dollar liquidity.

Reporting by Oludare Mayowa

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