Nigeria overnight lending rate hit 100 pct this week after dollar sales – traders

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LAGOS (Reuters) – Nigeria’s overnight lending rate rose as high as 100 percent this week after the central bank withdrew naira liquidity to offset dollar purchases, but it fell sharply on Friday as the government disbursed budget funds through the banking system.

Overnight rates fell to 10 percent on Friday after the government passed 285 billion naira ($928 mln) for February allocations through the money market, reducing borrowing costs.

The central bank has been intervening on the official market to try to narrow the currency spread with the black market rate.

The black market rate was 520 to the dollar a month ago after the central bank devalued the exchange rate for retail customers to 375 naira to the dollar.

The bank sold $100 million in forwards on Thursday.


($1 = 307 naira)


(Reporting by Oludare Mayowa; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Larry King)


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Mali hits record cotton production, sees higher in 2017/18

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BAMAKO (Reuters) – Mali forecasts cotton production for the upcoming 2017/18 season at 725,000 tonnes, up about 12 percent from the current season’s record yield of at least 645,000 tonnes, the agriculture minister said on Friday.

The 2016/17 season ending in March will see the highest yield in more than a decade for the West African country, aided by increased prices and fertiliser subsidies fixed in 2015.

The new target will be achieved by planting more land, renewing subsidies and continuing a two-year-old programme that provides tractors at reduced prices, according to a statement from the agriculture ministry.

“In terms of cotton production, we have just crossed the threshold of 645,000 tonnes for a forecast of 650,000. This is a production record. We want to go … to 725,000 tonnes for the next campaign,” minister Kassoum Denon said on state radio.

Mali is West Africa’s biggest cotton producer and its season runs from April to March in two phases, production between May/June and September/October, with commercialisation from October/November to March 31.


(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Nellie Peyton and Mark Potter)


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Egypt doubles ticket price on Cairo metro, angering commuters

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CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt doubled the price of tickets for millions of commuters on Cairo’s loss-making metro on Thursday, angering residents already hit by a sharp rise in living costs.

Transport Minister Hisham Arafat said the increase to 2 Egyptian pounds (11 U.S. cents), effective from Friday, followed losses of 500 million pounds which put the network at risk, state-owned newspaper Al Ahram reported.

The move comes four months after Egypt floated the pound under an economic reform programme which secured it billions of dollars of loans from the International Monetary Fund – and led the currency to lose half its value and prices to soar.

“All prices have gone up,” said Mona Yasin, a 27-year-old masters student leaving a metro station on Mohamed Farid street in central Cairo.

“What is happening exactly? We can’t find medicine or any of the necessary goods in the market, and every time they blame it on the (high price of the) dollar,” she said.

“Everyone takes the metro – can you live without money?”

The minimum wage in Egypt, which is not always enforced, is 1,200 Egyptian pounds ($66) a month. The government statistics agency said that 28 percent of Egyptians earned less than $2 a day in 2015.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in December that Egyptians were coping well with challenges, but he is facing increasing pressure to revive the economy and get prices back under control. Last month Egypt’s urban consumer price inflation hit 30 percent, its highest level in 30 years.

“I earn only 1,000 pounds a month, which is not even the minimum wage,” said 31-year-old Amal, who works in a printing house and said she had put off her wedding because she could not afford to buy simple household goods.

“People are suffering. This is the cheapest and easiest means of transportation and they raised its price”.

Other passengers complained that the metro, which was opened 30 years ago, had deteriorated over time and they hoped the extra money would make a difference.

“Two pounds is OK, but only if they improve the service. The service is very bad, there are a lot of delays during rush hour,” said Mohamed Ezzat, a 43-year-old accountant.

($1 = 18.1800 Egyptian pounds)


(Reporting by Amina Ismail,; Editing by Dominic Evans and Ed Osmond)


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Nigeria issues new retail savings bond to raise $7 million

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LAGOS (Reuters) – Nigeria’s debt office said on Thursday it raised 2.07 billion naira ($6.6 million) from a new two-year savings bond intended for retail investors.

Nigeria forecasts a budget deficit of 2.36 trillion naira in 2017, half of which it aims to fund through domestic borrowing.

The Debt Management Office (DMO) has said it offered the bond to help broaden the country’s funding base. It will be available for purchase on a monthly basis and have a maximum subscription of 50 million naira. It carries a coupon of 13.01 percent.

The March auction attracted subscription from over 2,500 applicants during the five-day sale period, the DMO said, adding that the next sale will be on April 3.

The government plans to increase public spending by almost 20 percent this year and has obtained parliament’s approval for a $500 million Eurobond, after raising $1 billion from international debt market last month.

Outstanding total debt rose to 17.4 trillion naira last year from 12.6 trillion naira in 2015 and is set to increase further, as Africa’s biggest economy grapples with its first recession in a quarter of century, caused by low oil prices.


($1 = 314.50 naira)


(Repoorting by Chijioke Ohuocha, editing by Larry King)


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Morocco seeks 132,000 tonnes of soft wheat in local market

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RABAT (Reuters) – Morocco’s state grains agency ONICL launched a tender on Thursday to buy 132,000 tonnes of soft wheat in the local market, it said in a statement.

ONICL will open the bidding on April 3. The soft wheat, which can be either imported or from the local harvest, will be used to make subsidised flour, ONICL said.



(Reporting by Samia Errazzouki; editing by David Clarke)


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Kenya launches phone-based bonds, tapping pool of small investors

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By Duncan Miriri

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya began selling its first mobile-phone-based government bond on Thursday, part of an ambitious plan to broaden the pool of investors in government securities.

The government is initially making a limited offer of 150 million shillings to test the system before a bigger offer in June, Finance Minister Henry Rotich said.

Governor Patrick Njoroge said the bond, called M-Akiba, allows people to invest as little as 3,000 Kenyan shillings ($29.20).

“This is a product that will dramatically improve the savings culture of our people,” he said.

Treasuries in other emerging economies will be watching with interest. Most would like to broaden their sources of borrowing beyond local banks and international financial institutions.

Kenya pioneered the use of mobile money in 2007 with M-Pesa, a money transfer service, by telecoms operator Safaricom.

The M-Akiba bond will be offered on M-Pesa and similar mobile-phone financial services by other firms. Investors will be able to buy the bond through their phones, where a record of their holdings will be stored. Coupon payments will also be made through the phone.

M-Pesa allows users to transfer cash and make payments on even the most basic mobile phone. In partnership with local banks, Safaricom has since expanded the service to offer savings, lending and insurance products.

($1 = 102.7500 Kenyan shillings)

(Writing by Katharine Houreld, editing by Larry King)


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South Africa’s Advtech lifts FY profit, expects growth to continue

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African private education group Advtech reported a 24 percent increase in full-year profit, buoyed by strong performance from its businesses and expects growth to continue, it said on Wednesday.

* Advtech said basic normalised earnings per share increasedto 66.7 cents in the full-year to end December 2016 from 53.9cents in 2015. * The company, which runs 78 schools and 27 tertiarycampuses, said group revenue increased by 24 percent to 3.4billion rand ($267 million). * “In our core markets we expect growth to continue despitethe fact that competition has increased and difficult economicconditions remain,” the company said in a statement. * Revenue from the school division was up 15 percent, whilerevenue from the tertiary division grew by 28 percent to 1.3billion rand. * The group declared a final gross dividend of 19 cents from17 cents. * Advtech has been growing at a lightning-fast rate asparents frustrated with under-resourced, over-crowded state runschools splash out on private education. * In the year, it increased its presence in the Western Capewith the Glenwood House School acquisition and Elkanah House andgrew its tertiary education by buying a majority stake inUniversity of Africa in Zambia. * “The group remains focused on delivering on its strategy.We intend to generate 30 percent of revenue from the rest ofAfrica by 2020,” said Chief Executive Roy Douglas. ($1 =12.7200 rand)


(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)


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Nigeria has floated naira “within a range”-cbank gov

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LAGOS (Reuters) – Nigeria has floated the naira “within a range” against the dollar, central bank governor Godwin Emefiele said on Tuesday.

The naira, held around 305 per dollar for almost a year, was recently effectively devalued for certain categories of the population, though the central bank continues to tightly manage the rate.

He didn’t say what the range was but said the exchange rate was looking “better than expected”.

“We have seen the rates converging and we are strongly very optimistic that rate will converge further,” he said referring to the gap between the naira’s official and black market rate.

The central bank earlier kept interest rates steady at 14 percent.


(Reporting by Ulf Laessing; writing by Sujata Rao)


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Nigeria weakens naira in attempt to close black market spread -traders

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By Chijioke Ohuocha

LAGOS (Reuters) – The Nigerian central bank has weakened the naira by 0.6 percent in the last two weeks through dollar interventions on the official market aimed at narrowing the spread with the black market, traders said on Tuesday.

The naira was trading at 307.50 on the interbank market on Tuesday, almost 30 percent weaker than on the unapproved retail market where it was quoted at 435 per dollar.

The central bank had been selling dollars at 305 levels since August to support the Nigerian currency. However it devalued the naira last month for individuals, paving the way for a possible broader move to narrow black market rates.

“The central bank is depreciating the currency. It’s a deliberate effort to narrow the gap with the black market,” one trader at a major local bank told Reuters.

The central bank, which declined to comment, is due to announce its decision on interest rates at 1330 GMT with markets watching for signs of a more relaxed foreign exchange rate regime after the government this month called for “market-determined” rate.

A Reuters poll expects the bank to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 14 percent to tackle high inflation.

The West African country has tried to make the exchange rate more flexible before, leading to a 30 percent devaluation last year, only to reimpose a quasi currency peg, creating multiple exchange rates.

Two weeks ago Nigeria unveiled an economic recovery plan, including measures to relax foreign exchange restrictions, in a drive to pull Africa’s largest economy out of its first recession in 25 years.

It said the central bank will aim to achieve a market-determined exchange rate regime, but did not specify whether this would mean allowing the naira to float freely or keeping the current system of dollar injections to address shortages.

The bank’s governor later said he was not convinced about a currency float due to its effect on inflation, which fell for the first time in 15 months in February.

Instead the bank has sold millions of dollars via currency forwards on the official market in recent weeks to try to clear a backlog of demand and narrow black market rates which traded as weak as 520 last month.


(Editing by Alexander Smith)


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World bank disburses another $1 billion loan to Egypt

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CAIRO (Reuters) – The World Bank has disbursed another $1 billion in financial assistance to Egypt out of its $3 billion loan programme with the country, the bank said in a statement on Monday.

Egypt has been negotiating billions of dollars in aid from various lenders to help revive an economy hit by political upheaval since a 2011 revolt and to ease a dollar shortage that has crippled imports and hampered its recovery.

“The government has taken important steps in implementing key policy and institutional reforms that are laying down the foundations for accelerated job creation and inclusive growth,” said Dr. Asad Alam, World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti in the statement.

The World Bank issued the first $1 billion tranche of the loan in 2015, with two more instalments of the same size to follow, linked to additional reforms that the government planned.

Faced with a gaping budget deficit, Egypt began a series of painful economic reforms and has taken steps to lower fuel subsidies, introduced a new value-added tax (VAT) and let its currency float freely in the foreign exchange market in November to attract foreign inflows.

Sahar Nasr, Egypt’s minister of investment and international cooperation, said in a statement that the second tranche will help spur private sector investment and development projects and services, which should help improve people’s standard of living.

Hafez Ghanem, the World Bank’s vice president for the Middle East and North Africa, told Reuters this month that Cairo’s next set of economic reforms should focus on making its bureaucracy more transparent for investors.

Egypt expects to receive the second tranche of a $12 billion International Monetary Fund loan in May or June, Finance Minister Amr El-Garhy told Reuters last week.


(Reporting by Lin Noueihed; Additional reporting by Ehab Farouk; Writing by Amina Ismail; Editing by Hugh Lawson)


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