LAGOS, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Nigeria’s battered naira is likely to extend losses next week after plumbing to record lows with investors worried by Africa’s top crude exporter postponing its general election by six weeks.
Other African currencies are expected to be steady.
The naira hit a record low of 206.60 against the dollar on Thursday, and dealers halted electronic trading for the second consecutive day.
“Demand remains strong and unless we have large dollar inflows into the market, the local currency will continue to be under pressure,” another dealer said.
Nigeria’s central bank has repeatedly sold dollars to support the local currency.
Central bank governor Godwin Emefiele said the naira was “appropriately priced” and told investors there was no need to panic despite a nearly 25 percent slide against the dollar in the last three months.
Traders expect Ghana’s cedi to hold its own against the dollar as offshore hard currency demand eases ahead of a Feb. 28 three-year domestic bond action, analysts said.
The currency of the West African commodities exporter, which slumped 31 percent last year, has weakened since mid January as dollar demand overwhelms supply.
The central bank plans to issue a 630 million cedi ($185.29 million) bond, open to offshore investors, to roll over maturities and also finance projects.
“Significant offshore participation should support the local currency, as it will mean either an introduction of fresh forex into the market, or limited sale of existing cedi for dollars,” Barclays Bank Ghana trader Michael Akpakli said.
Kenya’s shilling was expected to be stronger, trader’s said, citing offshore dollar inflows before the sale of a new two-year and re-opened 10-year Treasury bonds worth a total 25 billion shillings ($273.22 million) next week.
“I don’t think the shilling is going to slide further until at least the bond auction is over next Tuesday,” said a trader at one commercial bank.
Traders expected the Kenyan currency to trade in a 91.50- 92.00 band in the week ahead.
Uganda’s shilling is seen holding steady, also benefiting from inflows chasing government debt and tight local currency liquidity.
“There are pockets of tightness in the interbank and they could be a source of support,” said David Bagambe, a trader at Diamond Trust Bank.
“As long as debt yields maintain their high levels or even climb further we shouldn’t see any more undue depreciation pressure,” he added.
Interest rates on government debt have risen sharply in anticipation of a substantial surge in public spending ahead of elections early next year.
The Tanzanian shilling is expected to firm in quiet trade in the coming week.
“There is demand for U.S. dollars, but we do not think that this demand is substantial enough to weaken the local currency in the coming days,” said Flora Mrema, a trader at TIB Development Bank.
The Bank of Tanzania said it had traded $43.5 million on the interbank foreign exchange market over the past week.
The kwacha is expected to remain on the back foot next week, although the central bank could intervene if the decline is overdone, traders said.
The kwacha could also find support from dollar inflows from foreign investors hunting for yield in a bond auction, Zanaco Bank said in a note.
($1 = 3.4000 Ghanian cedi)
$1 = 91.5000 Kenyan shillings Reporting by Oludare Mayowa,; Kwasi Kpodo, Edith Honan,; Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala,; Elias Biryabarema and Chris Mfula; Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa and James Macharia