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NIGERIA: CBN’S NEW EXCHANGE RATE GUIDELINES PUTS ECONOMY ON PATH TO RECOVERY BUT UNCERTAINTY TO PREVAIL

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NIGERIA: CBN’S NEW EXCHANGE RATE GUIDELINES PUTS ECONOMY ON PATH TO RECOVERY BUT UNCERTAINTY TO PREVAIL
  • Yesterday, after months of defending its policy not to devalue the NGN, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, released guidelines on the operations of its flexible exchange rate system that will come into effect on 20 June 2016.
  • CBN indicated plans to allow the NGN to float through a single market structure in the inter-bank FX market and the secondary market and to intervene in the market only when necessary. Effectively, this suggests that the exchange policy will be a ‘managed float’.
  • The CBN also highlighted that it will select around 10 FX primary dealers who will be registered authorised dealers designed to deal with the CBN on large trade deals; FX primary dealers will also deal with other authorised dealers in the inter-bank market, improving price competiveness and transparency.
  • However, the ban on importers of 41 goods and services from accessing interbank will remain inadmissible in FX interbank market. While this move may help to conserve FX reserves, we believe that this policy measure is counterproductive and will continue to damage the economy via higher inflation, slower growth and FX market uncertainty given the concerns already existing about weaker oil production in the economy.
  • Ongoing imposition of FX trading restrictions has supported the artificial stability seen since early 2015, but these barriers will prevent the market from effectively clearing, sustaining pressure on the NGN and reserves.
  • The CBN will also retain the ban on the sale of interbank FX to Bureaux de Change markets in an effort to curb currency speculation.
  • These guidelines come after recent evidence of further deterioration of the economy (acute FX liquidity challenges, rising inflation despite a hike in interest rates in March (see Chart 1), contraction in Q1 GDP and ongoing depletion of FX reserves) stemming from the oil price slump since mid-2014 and the non-optimal mix of policy response.
  • Such imbalances are in addition to rising spread between the official and parallel exchange rates (Chart 2).
  • Although the NGN is broadly stable, it has become increasingly overvalued, with the parallel rate trading around 60% above the official rate owing to speculative demand, strong import demand and inadequate production inputs against a background of weak exports and investment inflows.
  • The artificial stability of the NGN on the interbank exchange rate market since March has come at the expense of a depletion in FX reserves (down 10.7% to USD26.5bn from a year ago).
  • The CBN’s move to adopt exchange rate flexibility is welcome news; although it did not overtly say that it will devalue the NGN, the currency will officially be devalued and it is likely to trade in the range of NGN280-350.
  • This will help to alleviate pressure on the NGN, albeit limited, given still weak oil receipts, which account for the country’s main source of FX.
  • While the new exchange rate policy will put Nigeria on the right path to recovery, uncertainty will prevail given other pressures in the economy including rising inflation.
  • The new exchange rate system will also stoke inflationary pressures in the short term, in addition to a potential rise in fiscal spending, reducing the scope for any policy easing in the foreseeable future. As a result, we expect the CBN to raise the MPR by around 100bp at the next MPC meeting scheduled for July.
  • Meanwhile, with the financing requirement remaining high in the months ahead given a weak outlook for oil prices, T-bill and bond issuance will continue apace.

Chart 1: Monetary Policy & Inflation Rates (%)

20 Policy rate    
     
16 CPI    
Real interest rate    
     
12      
8      
4      
0      
-4      
Jan-12 Jan-14 Jan-16  

Source: CBN

Chart 2: NGN: Official vs Parallel Exchange Rate

400            
350            
300     NGN Official Rate  
       
250     Parallel Market Rate  
      Spread    
200            
150            
100            
50            
Jan-16 Feb-16 Mar-16 Apr-16 May-16 Jun-16  

Sources: Bloomberg; Ecobank Research

Ecobank Research | [email protected] | Twitter: @EcobankResearch 1

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  • This document was prepared under the supervision from the Research Division of EBI SA (a member of Ecobank Group), and is not necessarily definitive, current or authoritative. Data used in this document was gathered from reliable sources, but the analyst(s) and the publishers of this document do not hold themselves responsible for the accuracy or completeness of data used. The document provides the opinions, analyses and conclusions of the Research division only and is provided without any warranties of any kind. EBI SA and any member of Ecobank Group and its affiliates do not in any way endorse the findings, views and conclusions in this document. EBI SA, Ecobank Group and its affiliates’ Directors, Employees or Agents do not accept any liability for any direct or remote loss or damage arising out of the use of all or any part of the information contained in this document.
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Trading

Gold-i Integrates with CryptoCortex

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Has Cryptocurrency become the new digital gold?

Gold-i has integrated with CryptoCortex – an advanced digital asset trading platform from EPAM Systems, a leading global provider of digital platform engineering and development services. This provides financial institutions with increased access to multiple market makers and fully cleared cryptocurrency products available via Gold-i’s CryptoSwitch 2.0™, part of its Matrix multi-asset liquidity management platform.

The integration was completed following a request from a Gold-i client wanting to use the CryptoCortex platform to access liquidity from Hehmeyer and Shift Markets via Gold-i’s CryptoSwitch 2.0™.

Tom Higgins, CEO, Gold-i comments, “As digital asset trading continues to gain momentum amongst brokers, Prime of Primes and hedge funds, a key part of our strategy is to ensure that the cryptocurrency liquidity available through Gold-i’s liquidity management platform is easily accessible, regardless of which trading platform clients are using. CryptoCortex is one of the most advanced platforms for digital asset trading, therefore integrating with them was a logical step for Gold-i.”

“We are delighted to partner with Gold-i to provide our customers with real-time, event-driven processing and analytics that not only meets their essential needs but also delivers actionable intelligence,” said Ilya Gorelik, VP, Real-Time Computing Lab at EPAM. “Financial markets are among the fastest moving markets around, and with cutting edge tools – like CryptoCortex – that make data readily available, customers can quickly implement the best decisions possible.”

CryptoCortex is the most advanced institutional cryptocurrency trading platform on the market, providing a complete 360-degree solution for brokers/dealers, exchanges and buy-side trading firms. It has been developed by Deltix (now EPAM Systems), based on over 10 years’ experience in building, deploying and supporting institutional-grade intelligent trading across equities, futures, options, forex and fixed income.

Gold-i Matrix offers multiple routing and aggregation methods, leveraging connections with over 70 Liquidity Providers. It is super-fast and highly flexible, helping financial institutions worldwide to make more money and reduce risk.  It supports FX, CFDs and cryptocurrencies in a single solution which is fully compatible with the Gold-i Crypto Switch. Crypto Switch™ 2.0, provides brokers worldwide with a fully cleared cryptocurrency product and a cost-effective, efficient means of accessing multiple cryptocurrency market makers who can provide deep pools of liquidity as a CFD or physical asset. For further information, visit www.gold-i.com.

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5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Trading Penny Stocks

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How to Invest in Stocks for Beginners

Anyone and everyone from all corners of the world can trade from their comfort of their own as all that is needed is a computer and an internet connection.

Many people chose to trade complex asset classes like crude oil futures. But penny stock trading is preferred to many new traders because it is a lot easier to understand the stock market than the global oil market. Trading penny stocks is also cheaper to get started as some brokers have no minimum deposit requirement.

So how do you know if trading penny stocks is right for you? Here are five questions you need to ask yourself first.

1.  Do You Have the Right Financial Motives?

Why exactly do you want to trade? If you want to trade to become a millionaire within a year or two despite little or no experience, trading most certainly is not right for you. Trading stocks involves risk but penny stocks could be even riskier.

Ask yourself if the money you want to risk trading penny stocks is needed for important expenses. Trading with rent money or your children’s education fund with the hopes of doubling is not the right mindset to have.

And forget about sustaining yourself with a guaranteed income at any point in your trading career. There is no magical number but you need enough money to cover at least six months’ worth of expenses while learning how to day trade.

But do you have a backup plan if your money runs out faster than expected? Can you call it quits earlier than expected and return to a regular job?

The appropriate and responsible path is to take a few months to learn how to properly and responsibly trade penny stocks. Learning the true ins and outs of penny stock trading strategies can unlock the potential for explosive returns.

2.  Do You Have the Right Schedule?

Trading penny stocks for many people is a full-time job. But some people can get away with trading penny stocks as a hobby if they are available at only certain times of the day.

It is absolutely vital for penny stock traders to be alert and at their trading station at least an hour before the stock market opens. During the pre-market session, a trader is scanning the large universe of penny stocks to evaluate what stocks they will be buying and selling.

They might be looking at the news for a biotechnology company that released results from an encouraging clinical study trial. Or, they are looking for a company that announced a major contract win that would double or triple their sales.

So once 9:30 AM ET hits and the trading session official starts, a trader is well prepared.

But someone who is only available to trade penny stocks as of say 9:15 AM may not have enough time to prepare themselves for the fast action.

Similarly, traders that start their day in the afternoon session will miss out on many of the early movers and there is simply less opportunity from 12:00 PM to around 3:30 PM.

Part-time traders that start early enough can get away with ending their trading session before noon.

If you don’t have the right schedule due to work schedule, family obligations or you are in a different time zone, then penny stock trading during the off-hours might be a tedious task that offers little reward.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Trading Penny Stocks 1

Source: Google Finance. (Ticker $MREO, daily chart from Dec. 18): This shows how early traders were able to capitalize on the strong gains and late traders missed out on a major surge.

3.  Are You Motivated to Learn?

The day trading universe is open to anyone that wants to open an account and deposit money and no prior experience or knowledge is required.

But ask yourself first what do you really know about the stock market universe and how much are you willing to learn. Do you know how to read and understand Level 2 charts? Do you know the importance of SEC disclosures? What about evaluating what impact a poor earnings release will have on a stock’s movement.

It is OK not to know the answer to these dozens of other similar questions. But do you have the drive and dedication to learn from scratch? Do you have what it takes to read books and watch educational videos for weeks at a time? While this could be seen as an exciting process and an opportunity to learn a new skill, a lot of hard work and dedication is required to succeed.

4.  Do You Know the Difference Between Trading And Gambling?

The general public shouldn’t be faulted for correlating trading penny stocks with gambling. They may have seen headlines about how the global COVID-19 pandemic prompted many bored sports bettors to find excitement and action in stocks.

But there is a fine line between trading penny stocks and gambling. Do you know the difference between the two? Gamblers will pick a penny stock — any penny stock and buy shares and simply hope for the best. They have no knowledge of what the company does, nor do they really care. They either make money on a trade or don’t.

Penny stock traders on the other hand have a strategy that has been developed, revised, and improved on over months if not years. They know how technical analysis can be used to determine an entry point, how to analyze volume trends, and where to get their news and information.

Perhaps more important, they know how vital it is to have an exit strategy as part of every trade and then to just move on.

Gamblers on the other hand love to double down when they are losing. If you are a gambler that is fine. Just be aware that the individual on the other side of your trade knows way more than you do about stocks and will be happy to take your money.

Which one are you? If you are a trader and know how to be disciplined and cautious then trading might be right for you.

Conclusion: Be Honest with Yourself

Trading penny stocks involves risk and many new traders fail. Checking off a bunch of answers from a checklist is useless and meaningless unless you are honest.

At the end of the day, only you can determine if trading penny stocks is truly the best move for you professionally. A broker certainly won’t be asking you these questions. It is not their responsibility to do so.

So be honest with yourself. If you really want to trade penny stocks but recognize now isn’t the ideal time for financial reasons or you have the wrong mindset there is nothing preventing you from giving it a shot in six months or a year.

 

 This is a contributed article

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Why the rise of retail FX is here to stay

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Why the rise of retail FX is here to stay 2

By Michael Kamerman, CEO Skilling 

2020 has been a tumultuous year for both the world and for financial markets. The events of this year have changed the very course of how we’ll live our future lives. Alongside the disruption of daily routines, the coronavirus disease has disrupted the global financial markets at systemic levels kicking in a global stock market crash in February this year. Sure, things look good now, but remember how you felt in early March?

The Coronavirus Crash had sent financial markets plunging into the fastest, most precipitous fall ever recorded in history and the most devastating since the Great Crash of 1929  – signalling in turn the beginning of a worldwide Covid-induced recession.

Certain industries have been hard-hit with many businesses unfortunately falling into insolvency. Many others are still fighting to survive the global lockdowns that threaten their existence. The new realities inflicted by the pandemic have also given rise to a new set of consumer needs and have as a result driven surges of interest in some sectors.

While the headwinds of Covid-19 have made this a chaotic year, the changing lifestyles of consumers have fueled the growth of other more fortunate industries. These include, for example, online retailers, home-delivery services, pharmaceuticals and biotech, video streaming services as well as… online trading. And a sector experiencing outsized growth in online trading is retail FX and CFD trading. Yes, the novel coronavirus pandemic has jolted foreign exchange and CFD trading because of bust-and-boom movements brought on by extreme volatility in fear-led markets.

Volatility is the Mother of Opportunity

When it comes to trading, volatility is the mother of opportunity. It has always been the case for trading speculative markets. This explains why the global FX market daily turnover hit $6.6 trillion earlier this year, with a 40% increase in day-to-day trading volume compared to the last decade.

Pre-Covid-19, the forex industry was relatively muted. Economic outlook was more certain, with relatively subdued market volatility, while a steady stream of traders were trickling into the market. As such, industry focus was on diversification and future-proofing business models.

Volatility, the likes of which we have experienced this year, feels like a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, and one effect has been a surge in customer acquisition numbers in FX. With trading platforms having spent recent years optimising their online capabilities, the proliferation of people looking for innovative ways to capitalise on market movements and take control of their finances while under lockdown has, in a sense, been the ultimate proof of concept for the industry.

A continuation of this trend is very likely as countries across the world fight to keep the virus under control. Even with a vaccine on the horizon, record levels of government debt, high unemployment, and negative interest rates are creating a cocktail that is driving many people to seek greater financial independence, whether they are novices or experienced traders. Turning to the retail trading market in these circumstances can make for extraordinary tales, both in terms of wins and losses.

A rise in trading in pursuit of financial independence

Michael Kamerman

Michael Kamerman

Undoubtedly, the world has never spent more hours in front of screens as it has this year with the importance of online access to practically anything taking center stage. Simultaneously, personal finance has been high on people’s agendas, with the impact of the pandemic posing an existential threat to the income of millions of people.

This has driven greater appetite to participate in online trading, and the unpredictability of the 24-hours news cycle has created both confusion, and a sense of opportunity with aspiring traders.

In the wake of widespread redundancies and pay-cuts, people’s outlooks are shifting towards wanting to best monetise their time. This entry of new players into the market has happened in tandem with more experienced traders and investors sensing an opportunity to grow their own portfolios. Thus, one outcome of this year appears to be a shared desire from people to take a far more active role in protecting and growing their finances.

An era of more experienced traders

A positive outcome of this year’s situation is that new entrants have been those keen to study and learn about the markets. Indeed, the challenges that the world has faced this year are so unique, that from an economic perspective, they warrant examination, and are being used as a learning exercise.

Reliable and trustworthy brokers have provided a safe environment for traders to both test and develop their trading strategies. In doing so, traders have been able to grow their skills by learning how to navigate volatility and beginning to execute more substantial trades. Time spent on practice is increasingly more valuable to protect oneself against riskier and lesser-known market variations, particularly in the current climate.

The next six months aren’t likely to be a smooth ride. Volatility is set to continue, bringing with it greater trading volumes and greater opportunities for trader upskilling.

Good news lies ahead – for the world, and the world’s traders.

It is unfortunate that traders and investors stand to capitalise on higher returns during devastating situations that create heightened volatility, but this is the truth nonetheless and part of the essence of investing. The outlook of markets remains to be an indication of where the world is also headed. And that is not all bleak. The stock market bounced back relatively quickly in March, with share prices rising sharply even though many of the world’s developed economies were and are still suffering one of the worst recessions in living memory. Why? This is because, theoretically speaking, share prices are based on anticipated future expectations and income streams.

A most recent example is seen in Airbnb’s extraordinary IPO, making it one of the greatest success stories in the 2020 stock market. The success is clearly not based on Airbnb’s growth in revenue over the past year (when travel basically came to a complete halt). Investor demand was fueled by the hope and anticipation that pre-pandemic life will return and the global travel industry will be revived.

The overall global long-term outlook is a positive one, and the pandemic and associated recession is expected to give way to an economic recovery. What is for sure though is that the road to recovery is a long one, and market participants are to actively assess and reassess their investment and risk management strategies. The key to being in a better position to exploit the opportunities that arise in the markets is to be better able to mitigate the higher risk that comes with the unpredictable volatility of pandemic times.

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