interest rates
Tag Archive

Time to cut? Nigeria central bank gathers for first 2018 meeting

Comments (0) Actualites, Africa, Economy

LONDON (Reuters) – The Nigerian central bank’s monetary policy committee will finally meet on Wednesday to set interest rates for the first time this year.

Interest rates have been stuck at a record high of 14 percent since July 2016. However, the committee had to cancel its January meeting due to an inability to form a quorum following a number of departures that reduced it to just five out of 12 members.

A majority of analysts taking part in a Reuters poll said they expected rates to stay on hold for now, but that they would be cut later in the year.

Here are three graphics showing Nigeria’s changing economic dynamics.



The pace of inflation has steadily slowed since the start of 2017, with the core reading hovering close to the 12 percent mark. And with exchange rates fairly stable and demand-related pressures absent, inflation rates could be sinking further, making Nigeria ripe for easier monetary policy.

“After a year of lethargic disinflation, the drop in headline inflation to 14.3 percent in February 2018 ignites hope that inflation is still on a steady course towards the target 9.0 percent ceiling and that conditions could continue improving to favour unwinding the present hawkish monetary stance,” StratLink wrote in a note to clients.



Nigeria returned to growth in 2017 with the economy expanding 0.83 percent after shrinking by 1.58 percent in 2016, which was its first annual contraction in 25 years. However, latest growth figures are still well below its potential, the recovery has been fragile, and private sector credit lending lacklustre.

Political stalemate has been a common occurrence in Nigeria and has hampered reforms, while lawmakers still have to pass the 2018 budget. But with elections coming up in 2019, the heat is on for policy makers to help stimulate growth.

“The main focus will be to try and do something positive to the economy, to try to kickstart bank lending to the economy against a very weak backdrop, where the budget has not been passed and money supply is weak,” said Razia Khan, chief economist for Africa at Standard Chartered.



Meanwhile a recovery in oil prices, successful debt sales including rolling local into external debt, and a significant amount of portfolio investment have helped replenish the central bank’s coffers. In March, foreign exchange reserves stood at $46.2 billion – a near 9 percent jump month-on-month.

Nigeria’s foreign exchange buffer has climbed 53 percent since March 2017 when it stood at $30.30 billion – though reserves remain far from the peak of $64 billion in August 2008.


(Reporting and graphics by Karin Strohecker; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Read more

Egypt’s Al Ahly Bank raises depositor rates after central bank hike

Comments (0) Business, Latest Updates from Reuters, Middle East

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egyptian Bank Al Ahly raised interest rates for account holders, an official at the bank said on Monday, becoming the first state-owned commercial lender to react to last week’s increase in benchmark borrowing costs.

Al Ahly – National Bank of Egypt’s retail banking arm – raised rates on deposits by 0.75 percent and on saving accounts by 1 percent, the official told Reuters.

Two of Al Ahly’s main competitors, Banque Misr and Commercial International Bank, are also expected to review depositor rates on Monday, officials at both banks said.

On Thursday, the central bank raised benchmark rates by 100 basis points to their highest levels in years, accelerating efforts to rein in surging inflation and ease downward pressure on the Egyptian pound.



(Reporting by Ehab Farouk; Writing by Amina Ismail; editing by John Stonestreet)

Read more

South Africa cbank keeps key rate unchanged, sees tepid growth

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

PRETORIA (Reuters) – South Africa’s Reserve Bank left its benchmark repo rate unchanged at 7 percent on Thursday, with the governor saying that moderating pressures to long term inflation left it room to pause in its tightening cycle.

The Bank had raised lending rates by a total of 100 basis points at its previous three meetings, as it fought to keep headline inflation within its target band of between 3 and 6 percent as severe drought and a weaker currency weighed.

The rand turned slightly weaker after the decision, easing to 15.9735 against the dollar.

Governor Lesetja Kganyago said the bank lowered its inflation forecast for the next three years, and noted that the country’s economic recovery would be slow.

He said that while headline consumer prices would average 6.7 percent in 2016, up from previous forecast of 6.6 percent, inflation in 2017 and 2018 would moderate.

“Although the inflation forecast has shown a moderate improvement over the medium term, the risks are still assessed to be on the upside,” Kganyago said.

“The MPC remains focused on its inflation mandate, but sensitive to the extent possible to the state of the economy.”

Inflation in Africa’s most industrialised country stood at 6.2 percent in April versus 6.3 percent in March, data showed on Wednesday.

“The MPC will not hesitate to act appropriately should the inflation dynamics require a response, within a flexible inflation targeting,” Kganyago added.

Twenty-two of the 32 economists polled by Reuters had expected the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) to hold interest rates at 7.00 percent this month.


(Writing by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by James Macharia)

Read more

Tunisia’s central bank holds key rate unchanged at 4.25%

Comments (0) Business, Latest Updates from Reuters, Middle East, Non classé

TUNIS (Reuters) – Tunisia’s central bank kept its key interest rate unchanged at 4.25 percent, the spokesman of bank said on Friday.

The bank last cut its main interest rate in October, from 4.75 percent, in a bid to boost economic growth as inflation fell. Inflation was 4.9 percent in 2015, down from 5.5 percent in 2014.


(Reporting By Tarek Amara; editing by Patrick Markey)


Read more

Bank of Ghana keeps benchmark interest rate at 26%

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

ACCRA (Reuters) – Ghana’s central bank kept its benchmark policy rate at 26 percent on Monday citing moderation in the pace of consumer inflation, its governor Henry Kofi Wampah said.

The West African nation is under a three-year aid program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to support an economy dogged by high fiscal deficits and public debt, with consumer inflation consistently above government target.

The Bank of Ghana had set the current rate in November, its highest level in 12 years.

“The current tight monetary stance, supported by the continuing fiscal consolidation and improvement in the energy situation have led to a low risk in the outlook,” Wampah told journalists.

Ghana’s consumer inflation rose marginally to 17.7 percent, one of the highest in the West African region but Wampah said the central bank’s monetary tightening in recent months could limit any further rise.

“Going forward, the committee expects the slower pace of price changes to continue and steer inflation down towards the medium target band of eight percent, plus or minus two percent,” Wampah said.

Ghana’s economy is expected to pick up speed this year, even as the government abides by IMF-set spending limits, and Wampah said the bank had begun its zero financing of the budget deficit limit placed on it under the aid deal.

The country is preparing to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in November which are expected to produce a tight race between President John Mahama and Nana Akufo Addo of the main opposition New Patriotic Party, partly due to economic concerns.


(Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by Edward McAllister and Dominic Evans)

Read more

Nigeria central bank cuts rates for first time in six years

Comments (0) Africa, Business, Latest Updates from Reuters

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria’s central bank surprisingly cut the benchmark interest rate to 11 percent from 13 percent on Tuesday, its first reduction in the cost of borrowing in more than six years, in an effort to stimulate growth in Africa’s biggest economy.

The bank also reduced the cash reserve ratio for commercial banks to 20 percent from 25 percent, another move to try to inject liquidity into the banking system and encourage lending.

The central bank has been injecting cash into the banking system since October in a bid to stave off recession in Africa’s top oil producer, which has been hit hard by the sharp fall in crude prices over the last year.

“We must stimulate growth,” Governor Godwin Emefiele said, adding that committee members had voted by a margin of eight to two in favour of the reduction.

He said the step was taken “in consideration of the weakening fundamentals of the economy, particularly the low output growth, rising unemployment and the uncertainty of the global economic environment”.

The move took many in the market by surprise. In a Reuters poll, 15 of 23 analysts had predicted the central bank would hold the monetary policy rate at 13 percent, while four expected a 100-basis point cut.

The bank also broadened its interest rate corridor to 200 basis points above the benchmark rate and 700 basis points below, which means it will borrow from commercial lenders at four percent and lend to them at 13 percent.

The regulator hopes the measures will provide an incentive to banks to lend to local manufacturers such as food producers – in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s policy of boosting output of rice and other basic food items.

Nigeria’s benchmark 20-year bond yield fell 95 basis point between Monday and Tuesday as some traders had expected the central bank to lower rates.

Emefiele said fresh liquidity from the cash reserve rate cut would only go to banks that were ready to channel it into “employment generating activities” such as infrastructure projects, the agricultural and minerals sectors.

He rapped those banks which had used a cut in the cash reserve ration in September to invest in bonds rather than lend to households and businesses.

“Unfortunately what we have found out is that rather than banks redeploying that liquidity… what the banks do is just dump their money on CBN (the central bank) and earn 11 percent – and I use the words – for doing nothing,” Emefiele said.

Standard Chartered’s chief Africa economist Razia Khan said the easing of monetary policy was aimed at boosting the real economy but their success would also depend on the availability of foreign exchange.

The central bank has restricted access to foreign currency to stop a slide in the naira, effectively pegging it at 197 to the dollar. Emefiele said the restrictions, which importers say is crippling their operations, were working well.

“Nigeria has sacrificed free movement of capital in order to keep the NGN at 200 (per dollar) while cutting interest rates to help the budget,” Charles Robertson, head of research at Renaissance Capital.

“Unfortunately this will not produce budget revenue growth…It also reduces the return for owning naira, which will presumably encourage more purchasing of U.S. dollars instead,” he said.

(By Julia Payne and Camillus Eboh. Additional reporting by Lagos newsroom; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram and Ulf Laessing; Editing by Ed Cropley and Richard Balmforth)

Read more