World Economy

Egypt Pound Weakens Further

Egypt Pound Weakens FurtherEgypt Pound Weakens Further

Egypt’s pound weakened to a record in unregulated trading as demand for US dollars rose in the face of a central bank assurance that it won’t devalue the currency.

The pound’s street rate fell to 9.12 per dollar, from 9.09 last week, according to the average of quotes from four dealers in Cairo and Alexandria surveyed by Bloomberg. That’s the lowest level since the weekly surveys started in April 2013 and represents a 14% discount to the official exchange rate the central bank has maintained since November.

Policy makers in North Africa’s biggest economy are struggling to alleviate a shortage of foreign currency even as they balk at allowing the pound to devalue in an attempt to contain one of the Middle East’s highest inflation rates. Central-bank Governor Tarek Amer said this week he has “no intention” of letting the currency depreciate after increasing the limit for dollar deposits in local banks for some companies.

The pound’s decline “reflects pent-up demand that was released after the central bank raised the dollar deposit caps,” said Ziad Waleed, an economist at Cairo-based Beltone Financial. “We expect the pound to weaken further because there are no new inflows to ease the pressure on the currency and reserves are too low to allow officials to defend it.”

Egypt has spent billions of dollars since the election of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in June 2014 to prop up the pound, helping limit its depreciation over that period to 8.7%. That didn’t stop the black market rate from weakening more than twice that much. The dollar drain has left foreign reserves at the equivalent of about three months of the nation’s imports.

The central bank may opt for a sharp increase in interest rates when it meets next month in order to defend the currency, Waleed said in a research report published earlier Tuesday.