(Adds central bank statement)
LAGOS May 8 Nigeria's central bank said it
released $81.2 mln for dollar requests on Monday in a continuing
drive to improve liquidity.
In an emailed statement, the bank said it provided $44
million to meet requests for expenses such as medical and school
fees, and to cover travel allowances. It said a further $37.2
million was provided for small- and medium-sized enterprises.
The central bank has been intervening aggressively since
February to try to narrow the spread between the official and
black market rates and has sold more than $4 billion. In theory,
greater liquidity should lead rates to converge.
"The bank remains committed to ensuring that there is enough
supply of forex to genuine customers to achieve the goal of
forex rates convergence," spokesman Isaac Okorafor said in the
Earlier traders, citing a memo from the central bank, said
the regulator had planned to offer $100 million in forwards at
an auction on Monday but did not disclose the settlement period.
They said the dollar auction would be both for spot and forward
settlements and have to be backed by customer demand.
The Nigerian naira traded at around 400 to the dollar in
deals for investors on Monday, traders told Reuters, two weeks
after the central bank allowed investor trade in the currency at
The naira was quoted at 381.11 per dollar for investors on
Monday, data from market regulator FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange
showed. FMDQ provides daily opening and closing quotes on the
The official market rate was 305.20 on Monday and the black
market rate 391.
(Reporting by Oludare Mayowa in Lagos and Camillus Eboh, in
Abuja; writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; editing by Chijioke Ohuocha
and Mark Heinrich)