By Lukman Otunuga, Senior Research Analyst at FXTM
Despite oil prices surging to multi-year highs, Nigeria has failed to cash in.
The destructive combination of sub-optimal oil production, poor infrastructure, and fuel subsidies have drained oil revenues that account for roughly 90% of foreign exchange earnings.
Lower oil revenues and falling foreign exchange reserves are forcing Nigeria to ration dollars. The negative impacts continue to be reflected across the economy and local currency. But now the dollar shortages have attracted the attention of MSCI Inc. which is considering downgrading the MSCI Nigeria indexes to the status of a standalone market from frontier markets. It is worth keeping in mind that a developed market is the highest ranking, followed by emerging markets, frontier markets, and then finally standalone markets at the bottom. Given the difficulty in repatriating funds from Nigeria, this has placed the MSCI Nigeria Indexes in the crosshairs. Such a negative development may hit sentiment toward the county’s assets at a crucial period where economic growth remains fragile.
To add insult to injury, the NGX All Share Index has gained roughly 20% this year in local currency terms. A blockbuster performance when compared to the MSCI Emerging market Index which is down roughly -19%.
In other news, the Naira was trading around N419 versus the dollar on the official spot rate and has weakened only 1.3% year-to-date. However, on the Peer-to-Peer (P2P) segment of the FX, the Naira ended Thursday at N620 versus the dollar and N602 on the black market. Nigeria still faces the issue of multiple exchanges but this will be a discussion for another time.