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Bull run on Iraqi dinar too good to be true

Bull run on Iraqi dinar too good to be true


At Abu Mohammed's storefront currency exchange shop in Baghdad's central Karrada district, the price of a dollar was back up to 1,180 dinars on Thursday, close to the official rate, after falling as low as 1,080 on Wednesday.

Abu Mohammed earned a profit on Wednesday from customers who rushed to get rid of dollars as they lost their value.

"I feel sorry for those who traded yesterday, but what can I do?" he said.

The currency moves caused confusion in shops. Most Iraqis receive salaries in dinars but stores list prices for expensive imported items in dollars.

Refrigerator shop owner Abu Ibrahim hadn't yet heard that the dollar was recovering and thought he was now stuck with fridges priced in a U.S. currency worth far less than when he bought them.

"The central bank has to change the rate slowly if it wants to succeed. If someone has a contract a year ago in dollars and everything become more expensive for him, then he won't be able to gain any profits."

Iraq's currency stability is a point of pride, both for the government and its U.S. backers.

Thanks to rising oil prices and increasing exports, Iraq's public finances are in surprisingly good shape for a country that has seen nearly five years of war follow 12 years of U.N. sanctions. Iraq exports nearly 2 million barrels of oil per day and next year's budget is expected to be $48 billion.

(Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Caroline Drees)

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