Nigerian stocks posted a seventh consecutive weekly loss, the longest streak since September 2011, as investors anticipating a devaluation of the naira continue to shy away from the country’s assets.
The Nigerian Stock Exchange dropped 2.2 percent since Monday. The index gained 0.3 percent at the close on Thursday, snapping 11 days of losses. The market, which is closed on Friday and Monday for Eid celebrations, has dropped 7.2 percent this quarter, the worst-performance globally outside of China, according to a Bloomberg ranking of 93 primary indexes.
Nigeria’s central bank has introduced several trading restrictions to support the currency of Africa’s biggest oil producer in the face of an almost-50 percent slump in crude prices in the past year. Last month it stopped importers of 41 items ranging from private jets to toothpicks from using official foreign exchange markets. That’s led to a surge of demand for dollars on the black market, reinforcing investors’ belief that a devaluation of the official rate is necessary, according to Ayodele Salami, chief investment officer at Duet Asset Management.
The spread between the black-market and interbank currency rates “has opened up massively,” Salami, who oversees about $200 million of African equities, said by phone from London. “It’s causing foreign flows into the Nigerian market to reverse. That’s why you’re seeing people reduce their exposure to Nigeria.”
The naira fell 0.3 percent to 198.90 per dollar at 3:20 p.m. in Lagos, the commercial capital, having mostly traded between 198 and 200 since the start of March. Black market dealers sold dollars at a rate of 241 on Thursday, Hasan Melo, head of Roysygma Bureau de Change Ltd., said by phone from Lagos. Non-deliverable forwards indicate the naira will weaken to 249.75 in 12 months.
The central bank’s moves risk creating an “inflationary spiral” as local manufacturers struggle to fill the void left by imports dropping, JF Ruhashyankiko, an analyst at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said in an e-mailed note Wednesday.
Average yields on naira-denominated government debt rose 3 basis points to 15.3 percent on Wednesday, the highest since March 30.