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Stock market continues downward stride

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Price losses by 24 stocks extended the bearish trend at the Nigerian equities for the second day. Having opened 2019 on a negative note on Wednesday, the market recorded another decline yesterday following losses by bellwethers.

Specifically, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE)All-Share Index (ASI) shed 0.96 per cent to close lower at 30,771.32, while market capitalisation went down to N11.47 trillion.

Although the market recorded 24 price losers, depreciation by banking stocks such as Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, Zenith Bank Plc, FBN Holdings Plc and GTBank Access Bank Plc led to the negative close for the day.

However, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Nigeria Plc led the price losers with 10 per cent, trailed by University Press Plc with 9.6 per cent. McNichols shed 8.5 per cent, just as First Aluminium and FCMB Group Plc dipped by 8.3 per cent apiece. Diamond Bank Plc closed 6.9 per cent lower as profit-taking set after a major price rally.

Transcorp Plc, Access Bank Plc and Cement Company of Northern Nigeria Plc shed 6.2 per cent, 5.3 per cent and 4.9 per cent in that order.

Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc, GTBank Plc and Lafarge Africa Plc were also among the price losers, going down by 4.7 per cent, 4.4 per cent and 4.1 per cent respectively.

Market analysts said the loss by Lafarge Africa Plc has depressed its price to N11.50, which is below its Rights Issue price of N12.00 per share. Lafarge Africa Plc had last month applied to raise N89.21 billion from existing shareholders through a rights issue

“Following the resolution of our shareholders passed at the extraordinary general meeting(EGM) held on the 25th September 2018, the board of directors has approved the terms of the Rights Issue. Lafarge Africa Plc will raise N89.21billion by way of a rights issue at N12.00 per share, by issuing six new shares for every seven shares held by shareholders at the qualification date, which will be announced,” the company said.

Meanwhile, Forte Oil Plc led the 13 stocks that appreciated in price yesterday, chalking up 9.6 per cent. Union Bank of Nigeria Plc trailed with 8.0 per cent, just as Transnationwide Express Plc chalked up 7.6 per cent. Julius Berger Nigeria Plc garnered 5.2 per cent, while Jaiz Bank Plc, Vitafoam Nigeria Plc and Sterling Bank Plc went up by 3.8 per cent, 3.5 per cent and 3.1 per cent respectively.

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West Africa is the least trade integrated region in the world

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The Economic Community of West Africa States, ECOWAS, is the least integrated region in the world in terms of cross border trade, a report by the Borderless Alliance group has said.

 

According to the report, the non- application of ECOWAS directives relating to free movement of goods and people, ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme, ETLS, and the Common External Tariff, CET, are some of the factors responsible for the low level of trade integration in the region.

Other factors militating against trade in the region include the high cost of transport & logistics, Long delays at ports and borders, harassment along transit corridors, mainly from uniformed services and corruption.

Speaking at a one day workshop on dissemination and launch of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme handbook, Mr Justin Bayili, Executive Secretary, Borderless Alliance said that while Europe recorded 71 per cent in intra-regional trade, Asia recorded 53 per cent, South America 48 per cent against 12 per cent recorded by the ECOWAS region.

Bayili disclosed that East Africa is more integrated than its West African counterpart citing Customs inter-connectivity for the success so far recorded in East Africa.

He said, “We want to make West Africa a borderless border, East Africa is more integrated than West Africa.

“In international trade, there are no restrictions but standards must be met, the same best practices on transit that are applicable in East Africa must be applicable in West Africa.

“Burkina and Togo are inter-connected, Burkina- Cote Ivoire is also inter- connected and this has reduced the cost of trade between these countries.”

He explained that lack of professionalism amongst operators in the ECOWAS trade corridor has also been identified as a problem.

Bayili also noted that some of the issues affecting the ETLS are national issues adding that they must be addressed by national administrations.

Earlier in his opening remark, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC, Mr Hassan Bello, said that barriers to trade increase the cost of trade and Africa has the highest cost of transporting goods between origin and destination across all modes of transportation.

He stated: “We must work assiduously to reduce these unnecessary costs by eliminating all the barriers to trade and make our products more competitive in the international market.

“Removing obstacles to intra-regional integration in the ECOWAS sub-region would be particularly beneficial to the small scale traders that conduct cross border commerce within the sub-region.

“The potential benefits include food security, job creation, poverty reduction, increased tax revenues for authorities and long term development outcomes.”

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Why we suspended election in Rivers – INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has given insight into why the electoral process in Rivers State was suspended.

Nyesom Wike, Governor of Rives State

INEC had declared the election in the state inconclusive after suspending the collation of results for Saturday’s governorship and State Assembly elections due to electoral malpractice in the state.

However, INEC explained that the electoral process in the state was called off due to violence and threat to life.

The explanation was contained in a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mahmoud Yakubu, Rotimi Oyekanmi.

The statement reads partly: “In Rivers, the Commission was forced to suspend the election due to violence and threats to life, as a result of which it constituted a Fact Finding Committee to assess the situation and report back within 48 hours.

“In a couple of other states where a declaration was not immediately made, the elections did not meet the threshold required for such a declaration.

“The Commission will take the appropriate action prescribed by the law and make a declaration.”

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CBN: $42.5b foreign reserves cover 13-month imports

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The $42.5 billion foreign reserves as at December last year is enough to guarantee 13-month import cover for the country, a report by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has shown.

The stock of external reserves as at end-December 2018 stood at $42.5 billion,  indicating a depletion of 0.03 percent when compared with the level in the preceding quarter. However, when compared with the corresponding period of 2017, it indicated an accretion of 8.2 percent.

According to the CBN, the level of external reserves could finance approximately 13 months of imports, compared with 10.3 and 15.6 months of imports cover recorded in the preceding quarter and the corresponding period of 2017, respectively. These were, however, above the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) and global benchmarks of six and three months, respectively.

It said portfolio investments inflow to the economy decreased significantly to $1.38 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018 from $1.79 trillion and $3.78 trillion in the preceding quarter and the corresponding period of 2017, respectively. However, other investment liabilities increased to $1.42 trillion when compared with a reversal of $3.07 trillion recorded in the preceding quarter.

Direct Investments inflow decreased by 28.3 percent to $314.44 million when compared with the preceding quarter of 2018. It however, indicated a decline of 67.2 per cent when compared to the corresponding period of 2017.

Provisional fourth quarter 2018 Balance of Payment estimates for the Financial Ac- count showed a overturn from a net incurrence of financial liabilities of $4,615.17 million recorded in third quarter 2018 to a net acquisition of financial assets of $2327.91 million in the review period. This is also significantly lower than the net acquisition of financial assets of $3,528.62 million recorded in the corresponding period of 2017.

Net out-payments for services during the review period increased by 16.5 percent to a deficit of $8,287.57 million when compared with the level recorded in third quarter 2018. When compared with the corresponding period of 2017, it indicated a much higher increase of about 76.9 per cent.

However, the deficit in the income account (net) decreased by 10.8 per cent to $3,713.84 million in the review period from a deficit of $4,161.76 million recorded in the preceding quarter. When compared with the level in the corresponding period of 2017 it indicated an increase of about 24.5 percent.

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MTN to list on NSE

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Africa’s telecoms giant, MTN Group, yesterday said it would list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in the first half of this year.

This is coming on the heels of its recording very positive trade numbers in the 2018 fiscal year. MTN Group’s balance sheet showed total revenue of 37.971billion South African Rand (the equivalent of about N965.3billion), a statement from the firm indicated.

It said: “MTN plans to list by the introduction on The Nigerian Stock Exchange during the first half of 2019 and is looking to simplify the capital structure ahead of this listing.

“The company’s listing on the Exchange will create a new telecoms asset class for investors and provide an opportunity for a wider group of Nigerians to participate in our investment story.

“This will be achieved via a listing by an introduction and will be followed by a public offer once market conditions are conducive. Over time, and subject to market conditions, we anticipate that the participation of Nigerians in the ownership of the business will increase from around 20 percent to 35 percent.”

The telecom giant also announced a $1 billion divestment programme over the next three years that will slim down its operation and refocus it on high-growth markets on the continent and in the Middle East.

Shares in the company surged 15 percent to 87.39 rands, on course for their biggest one-day rise in since 2008.

During the year under review, MTN Nigeria increased its mobile subscriber base by another six million people, bringing its tally to 58 million subscribers nationwide.

CEO, MTN Nigeria, Ferdi Moolman, said: “In 2018 we rebuilt the base; adding another six million Nigerians to our network, giving a total of 58 million people access to worldwide communication services.

“This growth was built on our sustained focus on customer-centric delivery – ensuring that customers get much more value for their money.

“This included the deployment of proactive interventions to improve customer experience, together with the enhancement of network quality and coverage, and the optimization of our services portfolio.

“We also enabled an additional 8 million people to access the possibilities that the internet provides, bringing our total data subscriber base to 44 million, of which 18.7 million use more than five megabytes per month.

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