UPDATE 1-Nigeria naira eases: c.bank intervention no help

LAGOS Wed Feb 26, 2014 10:19am EST

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LAGOS Feb 26 (Reuters) - Nigeria's central bank intervened with dollar sales to lift the naira on Wednesday but strong demand for the U.S. dollar outweighed the move.

Dealers said uncertainty about monetary policy following the suspension of central bank governor Lamido Sanusi last week and reduction in foreign portfolio flows continued to weigh on the currency, which has lost 3.2 percent since this year.

The local unit touched a low of 165.80 naira during midday trade before the central bank intervened to bring it back to Wednesday's close of 164.80 naira. It closed at 164.60 naira on Tuesday, down 0.12 percent on the day.

"Central bank's intervention ... slowed depreciation of the naira and provided support for the currency," one dealer said.

The regulator has been intervening at interbank trades to prop up the naira over the past months, running down its depleting reserves to manage volatility in the currency.

Dealers said importers, who were among the heavy forex users in Nigeria, were timing their dollar purchases to rhyme with central bank's forex auctions or direct interventions in order to buy dollars at the official rate of 155.75 naira to the greenback.

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