(Adds statement after sale)
LAGOS May 30 Nigeria's central bank said on
Tuesday it had sold $482.6 million to improve dollar liquidity
in the foreign exchange market and curb pressure on the local
The bank, which has been intervening on the official
currency market in the past few weeks, had earlier told lenders
that an auction of $100 million would be both for spot and
forward settlements and would be settled within the next 60
In an emailed statement, it said a further $285.8 million
was made available on the foreign exchange market, and a further
$45 million had been released for such items as medical fees,
tuition fees and business travel.
It said small and medium sized enterprises were allocated
Africa's biggest economy shrank by 1.5 percent in 2016 in
its first annual recession in 25 years, hit by a shortage of
hard currency and lower revenue from its dominant oil sector as
world crude prices remained under pressure.
The central bank has been intervening on the official market
to try to narrow the spread between the official interbank and
black markets. It has sold around $4 billion since February, but
analysts doubt that this pace can be sustained.
Nigeria's foreign exchange reserves had dropped
0.87 percent to $30.49 billion by May 25 from a month ago.
The local currency was quoted at 380.33 per
dollar at the investor window on Tuesday, according to the
market regulator FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange.
It was quoted at 382 a dollar on the black market, while
commercial lenders quoted the local currency at 305.85 per
dollar on the interbank market.
(Reporting by Oludare Mayowa and Camillus Eboh in Abuja;
Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Alison Williams)