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External reserves inch up to $35.4bn

The nation’s external reserves rose to $35.4billion as at December 30 from $34.98bilion recorded as at December 24, data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) shows. This means that the reserves have increased by $531.3million since December 17, when they stood at $34.8billion.

It also means that after heading south for most part of the year, due to the sharp drop in the price of oil(the commodity that accounts for about 90 per cent of Nigeria’s export earnings) and the impact of the coronavirus(Covid-19) crisis, the external reserves look set to carry the uptrend momentum into 2021. In January this year, the reserves stood at $38.5 billion before falling to $36 billion in February and March.

However, the foreign exchange buffers increased from $33.52billion as of April 30, 2020, to $36.59billion as of May 29, 2020 due to the $3.4 billion in emergency support that the country obtained from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help tackle the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Analysts attribute the current reserves accretion to the recent increase in the price of oil occasioned by the distribution of Covid- 19 vaccines in some of the world’s advanced economies. According to data obtained from the CBN’s website, the price of oil as of December 24, 2020 was $50.99 as against $24 per barrel on April 2 this year.

Analysts point out that the gradual increase in the level of the reserves gives the CBN enough firepower to defend the naira which has been under pressure for most part of the year. New Telegraph reported last week that as part of its efforts to ensure a stable exchange rate, the CBN sold foreign exchange amounting to $18.35billion to authorised dealers between January and September this year.

The figure is 62 per cent ($11.37billion) less than the $29.72 billion that the regulator sold to authorised dealers in the corresponding period of last year. In fact, New Telegraph’s analysis of the CBN’s forex data shows that when compared to 2019 figures, the apex bank’s forex sales headed north in only Q1’2020 as it was trying to conserve its forex reserves.




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