Nigeria stock index closes near one-year high

Nigeria’s all share index on Wednesday closed near a one-year high on rising 1.16 percent, lifted by strong half-year earnings from banks and cement firms, and an increase in foreign capital inflows.

The index rose to 23,329 points, the highest close since August 5 last year, when it reached 23,397 points.

Nigeria’s  index has gained almost 12 percent year-to-date, recouping earlier losses it sustained due to dwindling oil prices in May and weak global risk appetite in the wake of ongoing European economic turmoil.

Top gainers on Wednesday include Dangote Cement, rising 3.51 percent to 114.02 naira.

Others were Zenith Bank up 3.89 percent and FCMB up 2.24 percent.

Stock Index records a year high

The stock index of the Nigerian Stock Exchange climbed to a seven and a half month high on Thursday, lifted by gains in the banking sector and an increase in foreign capital inflows.

The index has edged up 5.98 percent so far this year, recouping some of the losses it sustained earlier in the year caused by banks publishing negative or smaller profits for full year owing to bad loan write-offs.

The stock index crossed the psychologically significant level of 21,000 points for the first time this year, gaining 0.64 percent on Thursday to close at 22,109.76 points.

“We’re still sticking to our year-end target of 23,500 for the index, with banks to lead the way,” said Bunmi Asaolu, head of research at FBN Capital, a subsidiary of First Bank.

Banks were back in the black in the first quarter of this year, after posting disappointing earnings in 2011, drawing investors back to equities and boosting stock market liquidity.

“The Q1 results (are) … the most visible sign that things have improved and that we are past the end of the last bad loan cycle,” Asaolu said.

The index of the top ten banks has climbed 15 percent this year to emerge as the second-best performing index so far, after the consumer goods sector, helping lift the broader index.

United Bank for Africa (UBA) gained 4.94 percent on Thursday, almost the maximum five percent daily limit allowed, to N3.40, as the best gainer.

Other gainers included FCMB and Sterling Bank, up more than 4 percent each.