Nigeria FX buffer rises to more than two-year high of $31.2 bln – cenbank

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LAGOS, Aug 9  – Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves rose to more than two-year high of $31.22 billion by Aug. 8, central bank data showed on Wednesday.

The bank, which opposes a free naira float, has been selling the U.S. currency on the official market to try to narrow the spread with the black market rate, which was quoted at a record low of 520 per dollar a month ago.

Nigeria’s dollar reserves, which have been battered by lower oil prices, climbed back to a level they last reached in July 2015, shortly after President Mohammadu Buhari took office, the data showed.

But dollar buffers have started to decline. Traders estimate that the bank has sold more than $1 billion in currency forwards since last month to boost liquidity.

The International Monetary Fund on Thursday urged Nigeria to lift its remaining foreign exchange restrictions and scrap its system of multiple exchange rates in order to revive its economy, which is in its first recession in 25 years.

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