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Naira Drops as Central Bank Controls Choke Trading

The naira weakened a second day and Nigerian stocks headed for biggest drop since 2010 as central bank measures to protect the currency of Africa’s largest crude producer from falling oil prices stifled trading.

There were nine trades in the naira between 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. in Lagos, compared with 122 in the same period four weeks ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from at least 39 local and international banks. The naira weakened 0.8 percent to 185 per dollar, extending losses over the past three months to 11 percent, the most of 24 African currencies tracked by Bloomberg.

The Abuja-based regulator last month told banks to clear foreign exchange positions daily, having previously allowed them net-open positions of 1 percent of shareholder funds. The move has made it difficult for non-Nigerian investors to exit their holdings, according to Samir Gadio, head of African strategy at Standard Chartered Plc.

“For those who remain in Nigeria, it’s become virtually impossible to get out,” he said by phone from London. “There’s a risk that these measures last as long as the central bank feels it doesn’t have the ability to control the exchange rate.”

Calls to the mobile phones of Ibrahim Mu’azu, a spokesman for the central bank, weren’t picked up and he didn’t immediately respond to e-mailed questions. The steps are short-term measures to stabilize the market, he said last month.

Credit: bloomberg.com

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