Egypt's currency weakens to 26.49 to the dollar

CAIRO, Jan 4 (Reuters) - The Egyptian pound weakened to 26.49 to the dollar on Wednesday, its biggest one-day move since the central bank allowed it to fall by 14.5% on Oct. 27, according Refinitiv Data.

It was about 24.70 to the dollar at the opening of the trading day.

Currency flexibility has been a key demand by the International Monetary Fund, which approved a 46-month, $3 billion financial rescue package in October.

Egypt had been seeking the loan since March, after the economic fallout from the war in Ukraine aggravated a foreign currency shortage, causing a sharp slowdown in imports and a backlog of goods in ports.

"Whether this resolves the FX liquidity issues that Egypt has been facing will depend on whether we see significant FX inflows in the near term," said Farouk Soussa of Goldman Sachs.

"Key is to unify the exchange rate, which will require eliminating the FX backlog and ensuring demand for FX is met going forward," he added.

Egypt's two main state banks, Banque Misr and National Bank of Egypt, said in statements earlier on Wednesday they were offering one-year savings certificates with a return of 25%, a move that often accompanies a devaluation.

Egypt announced last week it had phased out a system of mandatory letters of credit for importers it imposed in February that further aggravated the import crisis. read more

The currency has weakened from 19.7 to the dollar in March. Black market currency dealers continued to buy dollars for 29 pounds each on the black market on Wednesday, even after the devaluation.

Reporting by Ahmed Tolba, Yomna Ehab and Patrick Werr; Editing by Alex Richardson, William Maclean

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