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Naira Falls to Three-Week Low on Auction Demand: Lagos Mover

The naira retreated to its weakest level against the dollar since July 23 as importers’ demand for the U.S. currency outpaced the central bank’s offer at a foreign-exchange auction.

The currency of the continent’s biggest crude producer retreated 0.3 percent to 160.90 per dollar as of 3:53 p.m. in Lagos, the commercial capital, the lowest on a closing basis in more than three weeks. The naira’s weakened 3 percent this year.

The Central Bank of Nigeria sold $300 million at an auction today as lenders demanded the entire amount offered, it said in an e-mailed statement. The regulator is the biggest supplier of U.S. currency and offers dollars at auctions on Mondays and Wednesdays to support the naira. It sold $221.6 million on Aug. 12, the lowest since May 15.

The “central bank’s supply wasn’t enough to cover demand that accumulated from low sales, so pressure persisted on the naira,” Kunle Ezun, an analyst at Ecobank Transnational Inc. in Lagos, said by phone today. “The central bank needs to increase supply further.”

The bank’s Monetary Policy Committee left its benchmark interest rate at a record 12 percent for an 11th consecutive meeting on July 23 to protect the currency of Africa’s second-biggest economy. It introduced a 50 percent cash-reserve requirement on public-sector funds after warning about the risk of excess liquidity.

Yields on Nigeria’s $500 million Eurobonds due January 2021 were little changed at 5.48 percent. Borrowing costs on local-currency debt due January 2022 rose 6 basis points, or 0.06 percentage point, to 13.09 percent yesterday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Ghana’s cedi was unchanged at 2.0950 per dollar in the capital, Accra.

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