The naira depreciated to the lowest in almost two weeks as the oil industry demanded dollars for gasoline imports. The currency of Africa’s biggest oil producer retreated 0.2 percent to 163.015 naira per dollar as of 11:05 a.m. in Lagos, the weakest on a closing basis since June 15.
The naira is down 0.4 percent this year, after being Africa’s best-performer against the dollar in the first five months. Nigeria yesterday approved a tender for the import of 3.135 million metric tons of gasoline in the third quarter, the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency said.
Africa’s most populous nation, with more than 160 million inhabitants, relies on imports to meet 70 percent of its fuel needs because of inadequate refining capacity, Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke said in November.
“Higher dollar demand is induced by oil companies that got approval to import petroleum,” Wale Abe, chief executive of the Lagos-based Financial Markets Dealers Association, said by telephone today.
The Central Bank of Nigeria sold $700 million at foreign- currency auctions this week, the Abuja-based bank said in an e- mailed statement.
The regulator sold $750 million last week, the most since the five days to Oct. 12. Foreign-currency reserves, which rose 12.1 percent this year, slipped to $36.887 billion, according to the latest data from the central bank dated June 26.
The nation’s bonny light crude fell to $91.50 a barrel from $128.47 a barrel on March 13.