Egyptian pound steady at forex sale and on black market

Reuters , Sunday 20 Dec 2015

Egyptian Pounds
Egyptians hold money inside a currency exchange office in downtown Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013 (AP)

The Egyptian pound held steady at an official foreign currency auction on Sunday and on the black market.

Egypt, which depends on imported food and energy, is facing a dollar shortage and mounting pressure to devalue the pound. The central bank surprised markets when it strengthened the pound on Nov. 11 by 20 piasters against the dollar.

It sold 39.4 million dollars at a cut-off price of LE7.7301 to the dollar, unchanged from Thursday.

The official rate is still far from the black market, which was around 8.58 pounds to the dollar on Sunday, unchanged from Thursday.

Egypt's reserves have tumbled from $36 billion in 2011 to $16.4 billion in October, and the country has been rationing dollars through weekly dollar auctions to banks, keeping the pound artificially strong.

The country has been starved of foreign currency since a popular uprising in 2011 ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak and drove tourists and foreign investors away.

In February, the central bank imposed capital controls, limiting dollar-denominated deposits to $50,000 a month in an attempt to fight the black market. The move caused problems for importers, who could no longer source their foreign currency needs.

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