Naira Climbs to Highest in 8 Weeks on State Oil Company’s Sale

Nigeria’s naira reached the highest in almost eight weeks as the state oil company was said to sell dollars to lenders and the central bank sold the U.S. currency.

The currency of Africa’s biggest oil producer gained 0.2 percent to 157.25 per dollar as of 4:30 p.m. in Lagos, the commercial capital, its strongest since Feb. 23, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The state oil company Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. periodically sells dollars to lenders to meet local spending needs. The oil industry is the second major supplier of foreign exchange to the market after the Central Bank of Nigeria, which sells foreign currency at auctions on Mondays and Wednesdays to stabilize the naira.

“The state oil company sold an unspecified amount to some lenders today, which strengthened the naira further,” Abubakar Muhammed, chief executive of Lagos-based Forward Marketing Bureau de Change Ltd., said by phone today. “Earlier in the week there was a sale by Royal Dutch Shell to some lenders.”

The central bank sold $120 million at an auction today, the entire amount offered, at a rate of 155.75 naira each, the Abuja-based bank said in an e-mailed statement. That compares with an exchange rate of 155.69 on April 16.

The central bank kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a record high of 12 percent for a third meeting on March 20. Inflation rate in the West African country declined to 11.9 percent in February from 12.6 percent a month earlier, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The yield on Nigeria’s $500 million of dollar bonds due 2021 fell two basis points to 5.432 percent. Borrowing costs of domestic bonds due 2015 declined seven basis points to 15.11 percent, according to the April 17 dada on the Financial Markets Dealers Association website.

Ghana’s cedi depreciated 0.3 percent to 1.8220 per dollar in Accra, the weakest on record since at least June 1993.

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