This is just as the gap between the interbank and parallel end of the foreign exchange market continued to widen.
The country’s external reserves rose 8.39 percent to $27.88 billion by January 26, 2017, from $25.72 billion a month ago, climbing to their highest level in 10 months, the data published on the CBN website indicated.
Nigeria’s dollar reserves have been rising this year to gain 6.9 per cent so far. The central bank did not provide any reason for the recent rise, which may be attributed to the recent rise in global oil prices.
However, official reserves are down 1.27 per cent from the same period a year ago, when they stood at $28.24 billion, the data showed.
Meanwhile, the naira yesterday exchanged for N498 to the dollar at the parallel market, a value it had maintained since last week, while at the interbank market, where the apex bank has been selling the greenback to support the naira, it stood at N305.25 to the dollar. This brings the gap between the interbank and parallel market to N193.
Money changers said the dollar was fetching between N495 and N499 on the black market, having been quoted at N497 on the black market two weeks ago.
The Association of Bureau de Change Operators of Nigeria had set their first ever reference exchange rate for the naira in January and has maintained the same quote for the currency at N399 per dollar for the past three weeks.
Foreign exchange bureaus said international money transfer agents were selling $8,000 to each of their 3,000 members weekly to support liquidity, which is far short of market demand.
The government has been pressing retail operators to narrow what it says is a damaging gulf between the naira’s official rate and the parallel market.
The naira lost a third of its official value against the greenback in 2016 after the CBN scrapped a currency peg in a bid to alleviate dollar shortages.
Retail currency operators account for less than five per cent of total foreign currency trading in Nigeria, but with liquidity poor on the official market due to low oil revenues and with the central bank left as the main dollar supplier, the bureaux de change have done more business.