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Naira Hits to Month Low on Suspension of Dollar Sales

Nigeria’s naira slipped to its weakest in a month as investors increased demand for dollars amid accelerating inflation.

The currency of Africa’s biggest oil producer retreated 0.3 percent to 158.075 per dollar as of 3:10 p.m. in Lagos, the commercial capital, its weakest since Nov. 16. The naira has gained 2.7 percent this year, the second-best performing currency in Africa, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Companies have increased demand for foreign-currency after the Central Bank of Nigeria said it will end dollar sales to lenders at twice-weekly auctions on Dec. 19 and resume on Jan. 7, according to Tunde Ladipo, chief executive officer of Lagos-based Valuechain Investment Ltd.

“Dealers speculate dollar supply won’t be enough to meet demand during the festive season as auctions end,” he said by phone today.

The central bank sold $200 million at an auction today, compared with $180 million on Dec. 12, it said in e-mailed statement. The next sale scheduled for Dec. 19 will be the last for the year, it said on Dec. 14.

Nigeria’s inflation rate rose for the second consecutive month in November to 12.3 percent from 11.7 percent, the National Bureau of Statistics said today in an e-mailed report. The central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 12 percent this year to control inflation and stabilize the naira.

“Inflation picked up in November, moderately exceeding our 11.6 percent forecast,” Samir Gadio, an emerging-markets strategist at Standard Bank Group Ltd. in London, said in an e-mailed reply to questions. “This uptick in inflation will also make it more difficult for the CBN to start easing monetary policy at its January meeting.”

Yields on 10-year naira debt fell three basis points to 11.85 percent, according to Dec. 14 prices compiled on the Financial Markets Dealers Association website. Borrowing costs on the nation’s $500 million of Eurobonds due January 2021 fell two basis points to 4.114 percent today.

Ghana’s cedi declined for a second day by 0.1 percent to 1.8935 per dollar in Accra, the capital.

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