Nigerian naira steady on oil companies dollar sales

LAGOS, March 31 Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:10am EDT

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LAGOS, March 31 (Reuters) - Nigeria's naira currency held steady against the dollar on the interbank market on Monday, supported by sales of the U.S. currency by two major energy companies.

The local unit closed at 164.95 to the dollar, the same level it closed at on Friday.

The Nigerian unit of ExxonMobil sold $50 million, while Royal Dutch Shell sold an undisclosed amount, boosting dollar liquidity and helping to prop the local currency.

Traders said there was demand for the dollar from investors repatriating dividends, but the dollar sales by the oil companies provided support for the naira.

"We hope to continue to see stability in the market in the near term and a bit of appreciation early next week when NNPC - the state-owned energy company - expects to sell dollars in the market," one dealer said.

The local currency has sustained a stable outlook since last week when the central bank hiked the cash reserves requirement on private sector deposits at the end of its monetary policy committee meeting. (Reporting by Oludare Mayowa; editing by Keiron Henderson)

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