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Nigeria T-Bill Yields Fall to 2-Month Low on Higher Subscription

Nigerian Treasury bill yields declined to the lowest in almost two months at an auction yesterday as investors bid for three times the 116.18 billion naira ($738 million) on offer.

The Central Bank of Nigeria sold 30.647 billion naira of 91-day bills at a yield of 12.40 percent, the Abuja-based central bank said today in an e-mailed statement, the lowest since a Sept. 26 sale. The bank sold 31.246 billion naira of 182-day debt at 12.45 percent and 54.29 billion naira of 364-day securities at 12.50 percent. Bids totalled 355.9 billion naira, the highest since Oct. 24.

The central bank held its benchmark interest rate at a record high of 12 percent to check inflation and stabilize the local currency, it said Nov. 20. Inflation, which accelerated for the first time in four months to 11.7 percent in October on widespread flooding of farms, is still above the bank’s target of less than 10 percent.

“Subscription is rising due to attractive yield,” Wale Abe, chief executive officer of the Financial Market Dealers Association, which groups lenders trading in the money market, said by phone today. “By holding the interest rate at 12 percent, investors expect the central bank will borrow at a rate that is at par with the benchmark rate or above it.”

The naira, which was 0.2 percent stronger at 157.42 a dollar as of 11:49 a.m. in Lagos, has risen 3 percent this year, making it the second-best performing currency in Africa after the Guinean Franc.

Barclays will add Nigeria to its local-currency government bond index in March, it said Nov. 6. JPMorgan Chase & Co. added the West African nation’s bonds to its benchmark emerging-market index series last month. Yields on 10-year naira debt fell two basis points to 12.27 percent, according to yesterday’s prices compiled on the Financial Markets Dealers Association website.

Nigeria also sold 23.907 billion naira of 91-day securities at a yield of 12.40 percent, 30.104 billion naira of 182-day debt at 12.45 percent and 37 billion naira of 364-day bills at 12.50 percent yield to non-competitive bidders.

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