March 22, 2018 / 1:20 PM / 4 months ago

WEEKAHEAD-AFRICA-FX--Higher central bank reserves seen boosting Kenyan shilling

NAIROBI, March 22 (Reuters) - The Kenyan shilling, Ghanaian cedi and the Zambian kwacha are expected to gain next week. The Ugandan shilling will come under pressure.

KENYA

Kenya’s shilling is expected to strengthen, helped by foreign investor interest in stocks, and positive sentiments due to the central bank’s robust foreign exchange reserves.

Commercial banks quoted the shilling at 100.85/101.05 to the dollar, compared with 101.20/40 at last Thursday’s close.

“We have seen interest in the stocks by foreign investors. That is what has made the shilling a bit firm. The central bank reserves are good, so the sentiment is for a strong shilling,” a trader at one commercial bank said.

Reserves stand at 5.9 months worth of import cover, up from 4.7 months in January, the central bank said this week.

GHANA

Ghana’s cedi could strengthen against the dollar, boosted by strong investor interest and steady foreign exchange inflows ahead of a three-year domestic bond issuance on Thursday, traders said.

The local currency, which has strengthened around 2 percent since January, was trading at 4.4150 to the dollar by mid-morning on Thursday, up marginally up from 4.4155 a week ago.

The cedi could touch 4.4050 next week, also on reports that parliament has okayed a 13 million-euro loan for the central bank to support a proposed depositor’s insurance fund, said Raphael Adubila of Accra-based Northstar Home Finance.

UGANDA

The Ugandan shilling is seen trading with weaker in coming days, amid elevated demand for hard currency from importers in the manufacturing and energy sectors.

At 1006 GMT, commercial banks quoted the shilling at 3,658/3,668, compared with last Thursday’s close of 3,655/3,665.

Faisal Bukenya, head of Treasury at Exim Bank said stronger demand from fuel importers and some manufacturers would “keep the shilling moderately weak.”

He said the local currency would likely oscillate in the 3,650-3,668 range.

ZAMBIA

The Zambian kwacha is likely to remain firm next week, supported by companies selling hard currency to pay salaries and other month end obligations.

At 1030 GMT on Thursday, commercial banks quoted the currency of Africa’s No.2 copper producer at 9.5100 per dollar from a close of 9.5500 a week ago.

“It will most likely remain within the current levels,” one commercial bank trader said, referring to the Zambian currency.

TANZANIA

The Tanzanian shilling is expected to trade in a stable range against the U.S. dollar or strengthen marginally, helped by subdued demand for greenbacks from importers and month-end inflows.

Commercial banks quoted the shilling at 2,257/2,262 to the dollar on Thursday, stronger than 2,258/2,264 a week ago.

“The shilling will likely trade in the same levels next week or appreciate slightly due to month-end inflows as companies sell dollars to pay taxes and salaries in local currency,” said a trader at CRDB Bank.

Reporting by George Obulutsa, Kwasi Kpodo, Chris Mfula, Elias Biryabarema and Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala, editing by Larry King

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