Naira Rises to 6-Week High as Nigeria Oil Companies Sell Dollars

Nigeria’s currency advanced to the strongest level in six weeks as oil companies in Africa’s biggest crude producer sold dollars to the market.

The naira is the continent’s best performer today after the Zambian kwacha and Guinea’s franc. Oil producers, including state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., are the biggest source of U.S. currency after the Central Bank of Nigeria, which offers foreign exchange at auctions on Mondays and Wednesdays to maintain local-currency stability.

The naira gained 0.3 percent to 163.51 per dollar by 5:18 p.m. in Lagos, the commercial capital, the highest since Feb. 18 on a closing basis. The currency has climbed for three days, the longest stretch of gains since January.

“The exchange rate has firmed up in recent days on the back of foreign-exchange sales by oil companies,” Samir Gadio, a London-based emerging-markets strategist at Standard Bank Group Ltd., said in e-mailed comments today. “Additionally, the market expects NNPC foreign-exchange flows to hit the system soon.”

The naira has dropped 2 percent this year, the most in West Africa after Ghana’s cedi among 24 currencies from the continent tracked by Bloomberg.

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