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Naira dips: New CBN team faces challenge as U.S. Dollar maintains six-month high



A recent surge in U.S. economic growth has spurred a renewed rally in the dollar, sparking frenetic activity among forex traders.

However, this rally could face headwinds due to forthcoming data releases and a pivotal Federal Reserve meeting set for tomorrow.

In early European trading on Tuesday, the U.S. dollar advanced, nearing a six-month high. Traders are anxiously awaiting key interest rate decisions from several central banks this week, including the Federal Reserve’s impending announcement.

The Dollar Index, a metric that gauges the U.S. dollar against six major global currencies, was trading around 104.937 at the time of writing, a figure not far from its half-year peak of 105.43 set last week.

The narrative from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in Wednesday’s monetary policy meeting could prove to be a defining moment for the dollar’s trajectory.

Currently, market sentiment leans toward the view that the Fed has completed its cycle of interest rate increases.

However, the timetable for any easing of monetary policy has been postponed to late 2023 or early 2024, largely due to the U.S. economy’s robust performance.

In contrast, the Nigerian naira has been on a downward slide, hitting new lows in the parallel market.

On Monday, it depreciated to 963 naira per dollar in Lagos’s parallel market, underscoring its continued decline against major currencies.

Despite reforms enacted by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on June 14 such as consolidating multiple official exchange rates into one and adopting a “willing buyer, willing seller” model for the Import & Export (I&E) window the currency’s devaluation persists.

Industry insiders assert that these measures haven’t adequately ramped up the dollar supply to meet the escalating demand in Nigeria’s economy.

In the I&E window, the naira depreciated even further to N773.98 per dollar, widening the gap between the official and parallel market rates to 190 naira per dollar.

A strengthening dollar creates headwinds for risk-sensitive assets, tightening credit conditions in frontier markets like Nigeria and eroding profits for exporters and U.S.-based multinationals.

Despite the appointment of Yemi Cardoso as Nigeria’s next central bank governor, the naira’s instability persists. In the burgeoning peer-to-peer market, often influenced by cryptocurrency transactions, the naira sank to N970/$1 in the early hours of Tuesday.

The U.S. dollar’s upward momentum is sustained by its inherent strength and recent data showcasing a resilient American economy.

Consumer inflation rose by 0.6% compared to the previous month, marking the largest increase since June 2022, driven primarily by surging gasoline prices.

The Federal Reserve is anticipated to maintain its current interest rates in its Wednesday announcement. Nevertheless, it’s expected to keep a hawkish tone, hinting at the possibility of at least one more rate hike later this year.

Amid persisting inflation fears and signs of economic recovery, the Federal Reserve will likely continue to indicate the possibility of a final rate hike, even if market participants are skeptical about its actual implementation.