Asian Equities Crash as Investors Watch Yuan Movements
By Investors Hub
Asian stocks ended mostly lower on Tuesday as investors fretted about the impact of rising interest rates, U.S.-China tensions and Italy’s decision to expand budget deficits.
The trade war between China and the United States may intensify after China allowed its currency to slip past a psychological bulwark.
The International Monetary Fund has lowered its forecast for Chinese economic growth in 2019 to 6.2 percent from 6.4 percent, citing the “negative effect of recent tariff actions”.
Chinese markets recovered from early losses to finish modestly higher amid bets that policymakers will increase support to counter the negative impact of the escalating trade war on Chinese exporters.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 4.50 points or 0.2 percent to 2,721.01 after tumbling 3.7 percent on Monday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index ended marginally lower at 26,172.91.
Japanese shares fell notably to hit a three-week low as a firm yen added to investor worries over China and rising U.S. bond yields.
The Nikkei 225 Index slumped 314.33 points or 1.3 percent to 23,469.39, the lowest closing level since September 18th, as trading resumed after a holiday on Monday for the Health-Sports Day. The broader Topix Index closed 1.8 percent lower at 1,761.12.
Canon, Panasonic, Honda Motor and Toyota Motor dropped 2-3 percent as the dollar slipped against the yen on worries over Chinese growth and simmering anxiety about higher U.S. bond yields.
Machinery makers that have exposure to the Chinese market also fell, with Hitachi Construction Machinery and Murata Manufacturing falling around 2 percent.
Tokyo Electron slumped 4.5 percent and Advantest lost 4.4 percent after the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index fell sharply once again.
Australian markets tumbled, dragged down by miners, financials and healthcare companies. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 59.20 points or 1 percent to finish at 6,041.10, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 63.10 points or 1 percent at 6,155.50.
Ramsay Health Care gave up 2.8 percent as its French subsidiary raised its takeover bid for European private hospital operator Capio by 20 percent to $1.28 billion. CSL plunged 4.5 percent, Cochlear plummeted 5.2 percent and ResMed declined 2.3 percent.
Lender Commonwealth Bank shed 0.9 percent after announcing it would pay back any “unauthorized advice fees” that were charged to dead customers.
Mining heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto ended narrowly mixed, while gold miner Newcrest dropped nearly 1 percent.
Woodside Petroleum fell 1.4 percent and Oil Search retreated 1.8 percent after oil prices fell sharply on Monday before ending off their day’s lows.
Nigerian Stock Market Rebounds by 0.03%
By Dipo Olowookere
The raising of the monetary policy rate (MPR) by 50 basis points to 18.00 per cent by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday did not deter the Nigerian stock market from closing in the green territory.
Business Post reports that the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited rebounded by 0.03 per cent yesterday on the back of fresh bargain-hunting in financial and industrial goods equities.
The energy sector remained flat during the session, as the consumer goods counter lost 0.12 per cent, while the insurance, banking and industrial goods sectors appreciated by 1.30 per cent, 0.36 per cent, and 0.11 per cent, respectively.
At the close of business, the All-Share Index (ASI) increased by 18.64 points to 54,904.68 points from 54,886.04 points, while the market capitalisation went up by N9 billion to settle at N29.909 trillion, in contrast to Monday’s N29.900 trillion.
UBA ended the session as the busiest stock after it transacted 19.6 million units, Transcorp traded 14.5 million units, Fidelity Bank sold 12.7 million units, Zenith Bank exchanged 12.0 million units, and GTCO transacted 10.5 million units.
When the market closed for the day, investors transacted 127.7 million shares worth N1.6 billion in 2,987 deals compared with the 1.2 billion shares worth N2.9 billion traded in 3,066 deals a day earlier, representing a decline in the trading volume, value, and the number of deals by 89.42 per cent, 44.83 per cent, and 2.58 per cent apiece.
Linkage Assurance was the highest price gainer on Tuesday as it grew by 9.76 per cent to 45 Kobo, Coronation Insurance expanded by 7.89 per cent to 41 Kobo, Champion Breweries rose by 4.26 per cent to N4.90, Sterling Bank jumped by 2.67 per cent to N1.54, and Jaiz Bank inflated by 2.30 per cent to 89 Kobo.
On the flip side, Ikeja Hotel was the heaviest price loser after it declined by 9.65 per cent to N1.03, Cadbury Nigeria depleted by 5.83 per cent to N11.30, University Press shed 4.76 per cent to N2.00, International Breweries slumped by 4.30 per cent to N4.45, and Regency Assurance decreased by 3.45 per cent to 28 Kobo.
It was observed that the market breadth was flat yesterday as the bourse finished with 12 price gainers and 12 price losers.
Ease in Banking Crisis Worries Hikes Oil Prices by 2%
By Adedapo Adesanya
Oil prices improved by more than 2 per cent on Tuesday as the rescue of Credit Suisse allayed concerns of a banking crisis that would hurt economic growth and cut fuel demand.
Brent crude grew by $1.53 or 2.1 per cent to at $69.33 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) appreciated by $1.69 or 2.5 per cent to $69.33 per barrel.
Measures to stabilise the banking sector, including a UBS takeover of Credit Suisse and pledges from major central banks to boost liquidity, have calmed fears about the financial system that shook markets in the oil space last week.
Last week, the two benchmarks shed more than 10 per cent as the banking crisis deepened but following the moves, the market showed promising signs of recovery.
Regardless, the US Federal Reserve started its monetary policy meeting on Tuesday with markets expecting a rate hike of 25 basis points, down from previous expectations of a 50 basis points increase.
Meanwhile, some predictions have said the US central bank could pause further rate hikes or delay releasing new economic projections, especially in light of the recent crisis.
Crude oil inventories in the United States rose this week, with a 3.262 million barrel build, the American Petroleum Institute (API) data showed on Tuesday, compared to estimates of a 1.448 million barrel draw.
The total number of barrels of crude oil gained so far this year is now more than 59 million barrels.
This week, SPR inventory held steady for the tenth week in a row at 371.6 million barrels—the lowest amount of crude oil in the SPR since December 1983.
Figures from the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) are due later on Wednesday.
The market will be awaiting a meeting of ministers from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries plus Russia and other allies, OPEC+, scheduled for April 3.
Not many factors could influence any decision reached at the meeting since the drop in prices reflects banking fears rather than supply and demand.
Last November, with prices weakening, OPEC+ reduced its output target by 2 million barrels per day – the largest cut since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The reduction, which at that time applied for the whole of 2023, was reiterated by Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, who hinted that OPEC+ will stick to the reduced target until the end of the year.
Unilever Nigeria Rejigs Business Model to Reduce Exposure to Naira Devaluation, Liquidity
**Stops Home Care, Skin Cleansing Products
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Unilever Nigeria Plc has announced that it would stop producing home care and skin cleansing products as it makes efforts to reposition its business model so as to “accelerate growth and sustain profitability while enhancing its ability to meet consumer needs.”
In a notice to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited, the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) firm said the exit from the two markets would happen this year.
According to the century-old company, this action is expected to result in an overall improvement in profitability, growth and a more sustainable business.
“The exit of these two categories over 2023 will boost the vision to make Unilever Nigeria great, building on the impressive progress made in other key aspects of the business, and is envisaged to result in an overall improvement in profitability, growth and a more sustainable Unilever Nigeria business,” a part of the statement signed by the company secretary,” Abidemi Ademola said.
The firm further explained that “These changes will reposition the company to better meet the needs of consumers, shareholders, and employees.
“This will involve repurposing the portfolio by exiting the Home Care and Skin Cleansing categories to concentrate on higher growth opportunities, strengthening business operations with measures to digitize and simplify processes, and focusing more on business continuity measures that reduce exposure to devaluation and currency liquidity in our business model.”
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