Jamaica’s NIR jumps US$146m

Jamaica’s Net International Reserves jumped US$146 million in October to reach US$2.89 billion. The net reserves balance is coming from US$2.75 billion at the end of September.
Gross reserves rose by $146 million to $3.86 billion, including US$966 million due to the International Monetary Fund. The October increase is the first major rise in net reserves for 2020. In March, the NIR rose to US$3.24 billion from US$3.13 billion. By May, it slipped to US$2.9 billion and ended July at US$2.76 billion.
The improvement in the NIR comes against the background of foreign exchange Canbio dealers buying US$424 million from the public and selling $373 million in October as Authorized Dealers bought US$628 million and sold $668 million. Cambios and Authorized Dealers must surrender around 10 percent of all foreign exchange funds purchased to the central bank.

NCB US$ selling revalues Jamaican$

The Jamaican dollar continues to revalue from the low point reached in August $151.18, with the rate ending at J$$141.94 in Thursday’s trading as National Commercial Bank (NCB) continues to be the primary seller of the US dollar for the week to date.
For the week to Thursday, NCB sold off a net of US$24 million. Dealers bought US$32 million on Thursday and sold US$56.6 million compared to buying US$46.8 million and selling US$51.4 million on Wednesday at an average rate of $142.6258. On Thursday, NCB sold a net of nearly US$20 million.
IC Insider.com’s technical chart suggests further appreciation for the currency that came under selling pressure with the fall out caused by the COVID 19 inflicted crisis. The local currency has broken resistance at $142.60, with the next resistance set at $140. If it breaks through that level, it will hit the next resistance level at J$137.
In Thursday’s trading, NCB bought only US$2.36 million at an average rate of $138.01 to the US dollar but sold US$22 million at $141.06. In comparison, Scotiabank bought just US$3.5 million on Thursday at $139.81 sold US$8 million at $142.87 after buying US$18.2 million Wednesday and sellingUS$9.6 million on that day.

More gains for Jamaican Dollar

The Jamaican dollar closed trading on Thursday at $144.48, an improvement over Wednesday’s closing selling rate of $145.30 to one US dollar.
Since August when the rate hit a low of $151.27 against the US dollar, the local dollar has rebounded 4.5 percent. A number of developments have occurred to help the local currency. Unbeknown to many is an issue of $5 billion government bond with a duration of more than 30 years that pulled liquidity out of the market to purchase them at an average rate of just over 7 percent, there was also another issue at the beginning of September for J$3 billion bonds resulting in an average rate of 2.91 percent for the instrument that has a two and a half years life. In addition, the reopening of the tourism sector would be adding some badly needed US dollars to the system.
The trendlines shown in yellow, on the chart suggest further appreciation that could take it below $140 to one US dollar. The chart shows the local currency on an upward rise since December 2018 as it meanders upwards to hit the low point in August and has since been correcting. It could return to the support line at around $138 later in the year but it could face resistance at the $144 region.
In Thursday’s trading, dealers sold $58 million at $144.48 and bought US$42 million at an average rate of $143.36. National Commercial Bank was the biggest seller on Thursday with US$18.3 million at a rate of $144.20, up from $7.7 million sold on Wednesday, while they bought just US$3.5 million on Thursday at $141.10. JN Bank bought just US$315, 000 at an average of $141.10 and sold US$8.8 million at $143.75. Mayberry Investments bought US$4.6 million at an average of $144.21 and sold only $873,000 at $144.59.

More gains likely for Jamaican Dollar

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The Jamaican dollar hit a low of $151.27 against the US dollar in August and has rebounded since to trade at $145.3 on Wednesday with one technical indicator showing that it could appreciate further.
The local currency has been on an upward rise since December 2018 as it meanders slowly upwards to hit the low point in August. At the low, traders pushed it beyond the channel top, after moving within the channel as depicted by the yellow lines. It could return to the support line at around $138 later in the year but it could face resistance at the $144 region that it is within reach of currently.
In Wednesday’s trading, dealers sold $64.8 million at $145.306 having bought US$55.8 million at an average rate of $144.43.  In trading, Scotia Bank bought US$8.5 million more than they sold. First Global, JMMB Bank, National Commercial Bank and Victoria Mutual Building Society sold far more US dollars than the bought.

Jamaican$ improved value

The Jamaican dollar closed trading on Tuesday at $145.91 to one US dollar, with dealers selling US$60 million after buying US$51.4 million at an average rate of $144.81. The improved value for the local currency compares with the August 19 low of $151.27 for each US dollar.
On Monday, dealers sold US$36.5 million at an average of $146.89, while dealers bought just US$23.2 million, at an average rate of $144.02.
The big sellers on Tuesday were Bank of Nova Scotia, US$9.6 million at an average of $147.23 after buying a mere US$2.3 million at $142.04. JN Bank bought just $336,000 at $138.16 each and sold US$4.4 million at $142.14 each and National Commercial Bank bought US$6.5 million at an average of $144.79 and sold US$14.4 million at $145.42. JMMB Bank bought US$8.7 million at $143.34 and sold only US$688,334 at $146.19 while JMMB Securities bought US$6.4 million at $146.72 each and sold US$7 million at $146.99.

BOJ resets FX market

Massive speculation in the US dollar in Jamaica since March this year, maybe ending with the latest move by Bank of Jamaica exposing the extent of the market’s acceptance of rates above J$150 to one US dollar, currently and effecting some revaluation of the local dollar.
Bank of Jamaica placed on sale through their B-FXITT Flash sale mechanism, US$20 million on Tuesday, with the results suggesting exhaustion of the speculative bubble. The sale was the first on record when the demand was less than the amount offered by the central bank since they started this method of intervention three years ago.
At the latest auction, only ten eligible bids amounting to a mere $7.8 million went after the amount offered. The Central bank accepted only five Bids for $6 million at $146.81 to the US dollar. The highest accepted bid was for US$2 million at a rate of US$148.30 to one US dollar. The move spilled over into the daily exchange market, with the average rate declining. Dealers bought US$55 million at an average rate of $147.545 to one US dollar and sold $53.85 million at J$148.6516 to the US. On Monday. Dealers bought US$42.68 million at an average of J$147.3109 and sold US$57.28 million at J$149.2881 each.

Jamaica’s Central Bank sold only US$6M in its FX flash auction on Tuesday.

Trading on Friday last saw buying by dealers of US$40.5 million at $148.3155 and selling of US$28.9 million at J$149.5907 each.
In August, Bank of Jamaica sold US$30 million to Authorized Dealers and select Cambios on Tuesday 18, through a B-FXITT Flash Auction that saw US$36.4 million demanded. Bank of Nova Scotia, First Caribbean International Bank, bought US$6 million, each and JMMB Securities with US$4.45 million, were the largest takers, buying between them. NCB Group was notably absent from the buyers in the August sale when the average rate was J$150.64 to the US.

Halting bank dividends to cut US$ demand

Investors in Jamaica will be hit hard by the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) decision to halt the payment of dividends for 2020 by financial holding companies and deposit-taking institutions.

Shareholders at and banking groups will be hit hard by the BOJ decision to stop dividend payments for 2020.

Several Jamaicans who rely on dividends from financial institutions will find that their income will be slashed from a source they have come to rely on for decades and especially now that there are few other investments that can provide the same level of return with interest rates in the country so low currently.
According to Jamaica’s central bank, the decision is done ”with a view to conserving capital and further enhancing licensees’ lending and loss-absorption capacities.” “Bank of Jamaica, after consultation with the boards of financial holding companies (“FHC”) designates, wishes to confirm the mutual understanding that FHC designates and deposit-taking institutions (“DTI”) will suspend the distribution of profits by way of declaring dividends in any manner (cash or stock) for the 2020 financial year, until further notice. It is also our understanding that FHC designates and DTIs will similarly postpone the distribution of any unpaid dividends declared for the 2019 financial year.
What does this all mean? Sagicor Group declared a dividend of forty cents per share payable on May 6, 2020, to shareholders on record on April 24. With this latest development, this dividend cannot be paid out in 2020 or until the central bank lifts the restrictions.
The move, although not stated, is much more a foreign exchange control measure in disguise to halt the payments of dividends in US dollars to the majority shareholders who are overseas. The move will result in more than US$50 million not leaving the country for the rest of the year.
Scotia Group, Sagicor Group and NCB Financial Group are three of the country’s largest entities with deposit-taking subsidiaries. All three have large overseas majority shareholders with Scotia Group overseas holding at 73 percent. While the release is silent on is the matter of conserving foreign exchange.

Sharp rise in Jamaican$ value

NCB purchased US$32m and sold US$73m at J$130.16 on Thursday & drag the US$ down vs the J$.

The Jamaican dollar enjoyed a big rise in value against the US dollar with the rate for buying funds from the market falling to JS$131.72 and selling by dealers closing at an average of $131.52, down from J$133.06 buying and J$134.76 selling.
The sharp improvement in the value of the local currency may not last in the short term, as the drop in the value of the US dollar versus the Jamaican dollar, was due mostly to big trades by National Commercial Bank well below the average for the rest of the market. The market is now in a period of increased supplies and lower demand that is likely to result in further appreciation of the local currency until April unless the central bank intervenes to buy excess flows from the market.
At the end of 2019, the selling rate for the US dollar was J$127.716 but the currency depreciated during the year to a low of J$141.89 to the US dollar on November 7. National Commercial Bank bought US$32,148,142.99 at an average rate of J$129.83 and sold US$73,145,676 at J$130.16 each. The trade by the country’s largest commercial bank accounted for 48 percent of the total of US$67.5 million purchased and 70 percent of the US$104.3 million sold. After NCB, the next biggest trades were by Bank of Nova Scotia, in buying US$10.3 million, at an average of $132.60 and selling $7 million at $133.54.
The largest single purchase is US$25 million at $129 and the largest sale was US$68.35 million at J$130 each.

BOJ sells US$40m into forex market

Bank of Jamaica sold US$40 million via B-FXITT to authorized dealers and Cambios to augment supply in the market on Tuesday.
“The factors behind the recent depreciation in the exchange rate are well known and Bank of Jamaica expects that these impulses will subside and that normalcy will return to the market. There has been an increase in demand for foreign currency due to the regular re-stocking by retailers for the Christmas season. Further, there has been extraordinary demand relating to portfolio transactions,” the central bank stated in a release today.
“Notwithstanding the recent depreciation, inflows into the foreign exchange market remained healthy. For October 2019, average daily inflow from earners was approximately US$31 million, in line with October 2018. However, driven by the factors noted above, demand has outstripped this supply,” the release went on to say.
The local currency moved in recent weeks and traded at $141.96 to one US dollar on average on Monday as dealers bought US$30.7 million at an average rate of $138.89 and sold $31.5 million at J$141.96 each. On Friday, dealers bought US$33 million at an average price of J$139.49 and bought US$30.2 million at J$141.89.

BOJ sold US$30m to FX market on Friday

BOJ interest cuts overnight rate.

Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) intervened in the foreign exchange market on Friday, October 18, the first time since July by selling US$30 million at a weighted average rate of $138.87 by means of a flash intervention.
Bank of Jamaica introduced a bidding system when they intervene in the foreign exchange market officially called “Foreign Exchange Intervention and Trading Tool (BFXITT).” The system was introduced in 2017 with the central bank buying and selling funds in the market whereby authorized dealers and Cambios had bid for the amounts on offer.
Friday’s intervention was to address temporary demand and supply imbalances in the market Jamaica’s central bank stated. Friday’s intervention is the first being made since the central bank intervened with two flash sales on July 18 and 19th this year with a total sale of US$35 million and prior to, US$30 million on July 11. In 2017 and 2018 the central bank had regular weekly scheduled interventions in the market from August to October and November, but there has been none in 2019 after BOJ lowered the amount dealers had to surrender to the central bank from amounts they bought weekly.
The amount offered for sale on Friday attracted 42 bids amounting to US$72.6 million but just 17 were accepted with the highest bid at $139.15 and the lowest at $137. Bids at $138.65 got 33.33 percent of the amount applied for.
The intervention comes against the background of the country’s Net International Reserves climbing US$162 million, from US$2.936 billion at the end of August to US$ 3.098 billion at the end of September.