Nigeria’s interbank lending rate up 23% as CBN sells $459.56mln treasury bills

    A towel with a print of the Nigerian naira is displayed for sale at a street market in the central business district in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos February 4, 2016. Picture taken February 4, 2016. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye/File - RTSJQR1

    LAGOS, Aug 4  – Nigeria’s interbank lending rate jumped to 23 percent on Friday from just five percent a week ago after the central bank tightened liquidity.

    The more than quadrupling of the rate came after the bank sold a total of 167.60 billion naira ($459.56 million) in treasury bills on Friday and withdrew an undisclosed amount from lenders to maintain cash reserve ratio.

    It did so to support the currency, making naira scarcer in the market and more attractive to hold. Demand also strengthens the currency, helping fight inflation.

    Inflation in Nigeria is running at more than 16 percent annually while the country’s economy, clobbered by the low oil price has tumbled into recession over the past year.

    The naira, meanwhile, has weakened from around 200 to the U.S. dollar in mid-2016 to nearly 364 on Friday — a 45 percent decline in value.

    The central bank’s sales on Friday amounted to 167.16 billion naira of 356-day open market operation treasury bills at 18.55 percent, and 439.45 million naira of the 188-day paper at 17.95 percent.

    The total banking credit balance opened at 75 billion naira. But outflows from the system led the market into negative territory, traders said.

    “We see the cost of borrowing rising further as the market struggle with tight liquidity and banks seek to cover their positions,” one trader said. ($1 = 364.70 naira) (Reporting by Oludare Mayowa; Editing by Chijioke Ohuocha)

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