Thursday, October 12, 2017 09:28 AM / ARM Research
With data on the economy set to be released in coming periods, we expect crude export to consolidate gains from the first full quarter of Forcados re-opening in Q3. In line with this, recent production estimates are already pointing to crude production of ~1.9mbpd in Q3 17 (+3% QoQ). However, with mean crude prices having remained relatively stable over the past three months (+1% QoQ to $51.28), we see scope for only 4.3% QoQ growth in exports to $11.3 billion in Q3 17E.
On imports, despite the huge dollar sales thus far in 2017, CBN’s dollar cash inflow numbers (+5.8% MoM to $3.9 billion in July alone) still present ample re-assurance that ongoing interventions would be sustained in the near term. This, combined with continued improvements in FX liquidity, FPI flows, and rising reserves (+1.8% QTD to $30.8 billion), leaves scope for continued USDNGN stability and availability in the coming months—with knock-on effect likely to further buoy imports (+9% QoQ to $9.5 billion in Q3 17) and leave Nigeria’s trade surplus 15% narrower QoQ at $1.79 billion.
Overlaying the implied goods trade surplus with target services and income deficits of $3.6 billion and $3.2 billion (respectively 4.1% and 3.6% of forecast Q3 16 GDP) as well as net current transfers of $6.2 billion, we expect the country’s current account to print at $1.36 billion (Q4 17: $1.1 billion) and 1.3% of GDP in Q3 17 (Q4 17: 1.1%). On the financial account, we expect a combination of improving economic picture and flexible exchange rate system to sustain the demand for naira-denominated assets over the coming months.
Specifically, flows to equity should be buoyed by the gradual reduction in clearing rates at CBN auctions, and high levels of maturities expected over the first half of 2018. In our view, all three variables should stoke downward pressure on yields and increase the viability of equities as an investment option—especially with the outlook for earnings still positive across select names.
Overall, despite the expected moderation in current account surplus—which should subsist into H1 18 in our view, projected improvement in financial account picture suggests little downside risk for the naira in the near term.
From ARM’s H2 2017 Nigeria Strategy Report