Nigeria Central Bank Hikes Rates to 17.5% Despite Inflation Dip

Nigeria's central bank on Tuesday raised its benchmark lending rate by 100 basis points to 17.5%, as monetary authorities seek to rein in inflation without choking off lending to the private sector, Reuters reported. Nigerians will head to the polls on Feb. 25 to choose a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari and the state of the economy is a major issue for voters grappling with double-digit inflation. The central bank's decision came after inflation dipped for the first time in 11 months in December to 21.34%, compared with 21.47% in November. But Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele said members of the monetary policy committee did not think the decline was big enough to justify either holding, or cutting the rate. "For us it is not time to celebrate yet. The issue was to what extent should we tighten," Emefiele told a news conference. Some analysts had expected the central bank to hold rates steady, after it raised them by 500 basis points last year to combat inflation, which is at its highest in nearly two decades. Read more.