As expected, the Monetary Policy Committee left the policy interest rate (MPR) and other parameters unchanged. At 14 percent, the MPR has been left unchanged for the 10th consecutive period1; likewise the CRR at 22.5 percent, Liquidity Ratio at 30.0 percent; and Asymmetric corridor at +200 and -500 basis points around the MPR. All except one member of the MPC agreed to keep rates on hold, mainly in anticipation of a more precise direction of key macroeconomic indicators, including the passage and implementation of the 2018 budget. Complementary factors considered for the hold also points to the current moderation in inflation rate towards single digit, as well as higher reserve levels
Macroeconomic Report & Economic Updates
OPEC weekly basket price reduced from $61.14 to $60.73 per barrel (December 1 8, 2017). Similarly, Global oil benchmark crude sold for as low as $61.22 per barrel during the week, down week-on-week by 1.8 percent. Nigerias Bonny light declined slightly by approximately 1 percent to $63.534. The fall in crude prices came after a sharp rise in U.S. inventories of refined fuel, which suggested that actual demand may be weakening5 (the EIA data shows an increase of 8.5 million barrels of stored fuel). Given that crude oil revenue remains critical to Nigerias budget performance, investments aimed at improving growth and competitiveness of other key sectors is essential to minimize distortions on budgetary expenditure.
The naira/dollar exchange rate remained largely stable at the parallel market at ?320/$ during the period7, albeit slight fluctuations on February 29, 2016 (?325/$) and March 2, 2016 (?328/$). The decline in the hoarding of foreign currency as well as the substantial reduction in the speculative demand for dollars were the two key factors responsible for the ease of fluctuations in the forex market8. With the slight increase in the price of crude oil, Nigerias foreign reserve slightly grew by $56 million, from 27.81 billion to $27.84 billion9. With the continued increase in the price of crude oil, a modest build-up of foreign reserve to guard against unfavourable commodity price movements is expected in the near term.
Power sector analysis shows an increase in power generated by 3.01 percent from 2903.5mw to 2991.8mw between July 1, 2016 and July 8, 2016, with a peak of 3260.8mw on July 5, 2016. This is however, still below the highest (5074.7mw) recorded in February, 2016. The increase reflects improved use of hydro (water) for power generation. The easing out of gas constraint occasioned by recent pipeline repairs have also contributed to the increase in power generation. Improvements in power generation would be sustained if hydro measures are complemented with fast-tracked repairs on damaged gas channels and intensified efforts at tackling pipeline sabotage.
The considerable increase in inflation continued to be driven by exchange-rate-pass-through from imported items as well as the lingering scarcity in the availability of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS). One of the key ways to reduce inflationary pressures in the near term is to improve the supply of PMS to filling stations. In the medium to long term, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) may need to revitalize local refining and bridge the gap between the supply and demand for PMS by households and businesses.