Filomena Scalise

Lagos - Nigeria's naira hit an all-time low on Wednesday, falling steadily in early trade after crossing 200 to the dollar a day after the country's central bank said it would maintain a stable currency market.

The currency, under mounting pressure since Nigeria postponed presidential elections last weekend, opened at 200.60 and had dropped 1.3 percent to 203.10 by 08h31 GMT.

The central bank, which has intervened repeatedly to try to prop the naira up, said on Tuesday investors were understandably nervous after the election postponement but it was committed to sustaining a “stable and orderly” market.

The naira, also under pressure from a weak oil market, has been officially pegged at 160-176 to the dollar after an 8 percent devaluation in November, but it has rarely traded within that range, and analysts reckon authorities will have to devalue it again.

The central bank was widely expected to move after the presidential election, but that has now been postponed from February 14 to March 28 due to security concerns.

The election pits incumbent Goodluck Jonathan against former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, in what is likely to be the most hotly contested poll since the end of army rule in 1999.

Reuters