Africa

Naira gains as Nigeria floats currency for 1st time

  • FILE- In this file photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, a money changer counts Nigerian Naira currency at a bureau de change in Lagos, Nigeria. Nigeria's currency plummeted Monday, June 20, 2016, losing more than a third of its value as the government floated the Naira for the first time in the history of the oil-producing nation. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba,File)

    FILE- In this file photo taken Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, a money changer counts Nigerian Naira currency at a bureau de change in Lagos, Nigeria. Nigeria's currency plummeted Monday, June 20, 2016, losing more than a third of its value as the government floated the Naira for the first time in the history of the oil-producing nation. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba,File)  (The Associated Press)

  • A Stock broker rings the closing bell at the end of trading at the Nigeria stock exchange in Lagos, Nigeria, Monday, June 20, 2016.  Nigeria's currency plummeted Monday, losing value as the government floated the naira for the first time in the history of the oil-producing nation. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

    A Stock broker rings the closing bell at the end of trading at the Nigeria stock exchange in Lagos, Nigeria, Monday, June 20, 2016. Nigeria's currency plummeted Monday, losing value as the government floated the naira for the first time in the history of the oil-producing nation. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)  (The Associated Press)

  • Stock brokers trading at the Nigeria stock exchange in Lagos, Nigeria, Monday June, 20. 2016.   Nigeria's currency plummeted Monday, losing value as the government floated the naira for the first time in the history of the oil-producing nation. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

    Stock brokers trading at the Nigeria stock exchange in Lagos, Nigeria, Monday June, 20. 2016. Nigeria's currency plummeted Monday, losing value as the government floated the naira for the first time in the history of the oil-producing nation. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)  (The Associated Press)

Nigeria's naira is plummeting, losing one third of its value as the government floats the currency for the first time in the history of the oil-producing nation.

The move was forced by a spiraling economic crisis created by slumped oil prices and aggravated by President Muhammadu Buhari's 16-month-long insistence that the Central Bank defend the naira at a fixed rate of 197 to the dollar.

Banks selling dollars say the naira is trading at 270 to the dollar late Monday morning

Private foreign exchange dealers stopped trading as the new policy took effect. The naira had crashed to 370 to the dollar on the parallel market before last Wednesday's announcement that market forces will decide its value amid a backlog of demand estimated at $4 billion.