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Nigeria’s Naira Weakens as Oil Industry’s Dollar Sales Decline

Nigeria’s naira fell the most in almost a week after crude exporting companies reduced dollar sales and deployed their foreign-exchange reserves to pay for gasoline imports, leaving banks short of the U.S. currency.

The currency of Africa’s biggest oil producer depreciated 0.1 percent to 157.8 per dollar as of 5:15 p.m. in Lagos, the biggest drop since March 22, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Given that crude exporters who are also importers of oil into Nigeria have to pay for oil imports, they see “no need to sell or convert their foreign currency” reserves, Wale Abe, chief executive of the Financial Markets Dealers Association, said today.

The Central Bank of Nigeria banned in October oil companies that export crude from buying dollars at its bi-weekly foreign-currency auctions, leaving them dependent on their own dollar earnings, the interbank market and other sources to pay for imports. It sold $128.75 million at a foreign-currency auction on March 26, the lowest since Feb. 22, according to the Abuja-based bank. Nigeria approved a tender to import 3.57 million metric tons of gasoline for the second quarter on March 12.

The oil industry is the second major supplier of foreign exchange to the West African country after the central bank, which held the second of its twice-weekly auctions today. Financial Markets Dealers Association, said today by phone.

Nigeria sold $150 million at a foreign-currency auction today, with the marginal rate gaining by less than 0.1 percent to 156.01 per dollar, the central bank said in an e-mailed statement. This compares with the $128.75 million sold on March 26, the lowest since Feb. 22.

Ghana’s cedi was unchanged at 1.7765 per dollar.

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