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Nigerian Naira Drops Most in 2 Weeks as Bank Cuts Dollar Sale

Nigeria’s naira dropped the most in two weeks after the central bank reduced dollar supply at an auction today.

The currency of Africa’s largest oil producer weakened 0.3 percent to 157:38 a dollar as of 3 p.m. in Lagos, the commercial capital, the most on a closing basis since Dec. 15, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Central Bank of Nigeria sold $120 million at a foreign currency auction today, the lowest in three auctions, the Abuja-based bank said in a statement on its website. The regulator, which sells dollars on Mondays and Wednesdays to stabilise the local currency, is the major supplier of the currency.

“The naira is depressed by the small volume of dollars offered by the central bank,” Abubakar Mohammed, chief executive of Lagos-based Forward Marketing Bureau de Change Ltd., said in a telephone interview. “The naira may regain support later in the week from oil company sales.”

Oil companies, which sell dollars to lenders by the month-end to meet local spending needs, are the second-biggest source of foreign currency.

The central Bank kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged for the eighth time on Jan. 21 to stabilize the naira. The inflation rate in December eased to 12 percent, from 12.3 percent in the previous month, as the effects of flooding that damaged agricultural output last year began to subside.

The yield on the country’s 16.39 percent domestic bonds due January 2022 fell nine basis points to 11.21 percent in the secondary market, according to yesterday’s data on the Financial Markets Dealers Association website.

The yield on $500 million of Eurobonds due January 2021 rose four basis points to 3.876 percent today.

Ghana’s cedi appreciated 0.1 percent to 1.9010 a dollar in Accra, the capital.

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