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Asian Stocks Down as Investors Monitor US-China Trade Talks

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By Investors Hub

Asian stocks closed broadly lower on Friday as investors kept a close watch on U.S.-China trade talks and waited for cues from the U.S. jobs report due later in the day.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index slid 9.83 points or 0.3 percent to finish at 3,091.03, as traders remained focus on the U.S.-China trade talks as well as upcoming U.S. employment data.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slumped 386.87 points or 1.3 percent to 29,926.50 after the latest survey from Nikkei showed the private sector in Hong Kong swung to contraction in April.

Australian shares retreated as banks succumbed to selling pressure on weaker local currency and amid concerns that an extended period of low interest rates may weigh on their net interest rate margins.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 35.40 points or 0.6 percent to 6,062.90, and the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 31.60 points or 0.5 percent at 6,155.40.

The big four banks fell between 0.6 percent and 1.6 percent, while investment bank Macquarie Group inched up 0.2 percent after posting a record full year net profit.

Wealth manager AMP gained half a percent after it strenuously denied allegations it may have committed a criminal offence. A drop in iron ore and aluminum prices weighed on the mining sector, with South32 shares ending down more than 3 percent.

Commercial explosives maker Orica Ltd rallied 3.3 percent on news that it will set aside A$115 million ($86.84 million) towards provision for environmental cleanup.

Seoul stocks fell as investors sold off healthcare stocks on worries over their future growth. The benchmark Kospi tumbled 25.87 points or 1 percent to finish at 2,461.38. Samsung BioLogics slumped 7.8 percent to extend recent losses, while biosimiliar firm Celltrion Inc. lost 4.6 percent.

South Korea posted a current account surplus of $5.18 billion in March, the Bank of Korea said today, up from $3.96 billion in February. The goods account surplus widened to $9.88 billion compared to $9.36 billion a year earlier.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Economy

UPDC Declares Loss in 2020 as Revenue Declines 23%

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UPDC Property

By Dipo Olowookere

All seems not to be well with UAC Nigeria Property Development Company (UPDC) Plc, going by its financial statements for the year 2020.

During the period, the revenue generated by the organisation reduced by 23 per cent to 1.7 billion from N2.2 billion as a result of the decline in the rental income and others.

The results also showed that there was a reduction in the cost of sales to N1.7 billion from N3.0 billion, leaving the organisation with a gross loss of N79.5 million, lower than a gross loss of N878.1 million a year earlier.

Also, the selling and distribution expenses reduced to N61.2 million from N104.9 million, while the administrative expenses rose to N881.5 million from N520.8 million, with the other operating income jumping to N146.6 million from N34.9 million due to the higher income earned through legal fees on disposal of UPDC REIT property, search fees, and sale of scrap items.

Business Post reports that the firm recorded an operating loss of N713.0 million better than N1.3 billion recorded in 2019, while the finance income improved by 551.9 per cent to N35.2 million from N5.4 million.

The financial results showed that the interests paid by UPDC on loans obtained amounted to N1.5 billion, lower than N2.6 billion of the preceding year, while the net finance cost stood at N1.5 billion in contrast to N2.6 billion in 2019.

With an operating loss before impairment of N3.2 billion versus N3.3 billion in 2019 and a fair value gain/(impairment of disposal group held for sale of N2.9 billion, UPDC closed the accounting year with a loss before tax of N262.7 million compared with N16.2 billion pre-tax loss in 2019, while the loss for the year was N605.9 million against N15.9 billion loss a year earlier.

In view of the performance of the company, the board did not recommend the payment of dividend to the shareholders.

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Economy

New CEO Vows to Improve Share Price of MTN Nigeria

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Karl Toriola NSE

By Dipo Olowookere

The new chief executive of MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, Mr Karl Toriola, has promised to deliver more value to shareholders of the company.

Mr Toriola, who officially assumed office on Monday, March 1, 2021, said he will achieve this goal by working closely with his team to offer better services to the company’s over 70 million customers in the country.

He expressed optimism that this would help improve the share price of the organisation on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

Business Post reports that MTN Nigeria about 20.4 billion ordinary shares of 2 kobo on the NSE in May 2019 by introduction at N90 each. At the close of transactions yesterday, the stocks closed flat at N174 per unit.

But Mr Toriola believes the company’s equities should be trading higher than this and he is determined to drive the value higher for the benefits of investors.

Yesterday, he was honoured with the NSE digital closing gong and while reflecting on the responsibility on my shoulder, he said, “I am committed to leading MTN Nigeria to deliver on our responsibility to the over 70 million Nigerian customers that use our services to ensure they stay connected and can access increasing value and better services through our network; our role as a corporate citizen in the recovery and growth of the Nigerian economy; and our need to deliver value and drive share price for the good of our shareholders.”

He thanked the exchange “for offering me this distinguished honour of ringing the closing bell on the first day of my tenure as CEO of MTN Nigeria.”

Mr Toriola also expressed his gratitude to “the board, shareholders and staff of MTN Nigeria” for the privilege to lead what is the “largest corporate by revenue outside the oil industry and the second-largest corporate listed on the NSE as at today.”

On his part, the CEO of NSE, Mr Oscar Onyema, congratulated Mr Toriola on his appointment as the CEO of MTN Nigeria, describing him as “a versatile leader who comes with vast knowledge and relevant experience spanning over 25 years, and we are delighted to host him on his first day on the job.”

“At the NSE, we continue to provide a platform to support our clients in meeting their strategic business objectives and we are pleased to see listed companies take full advantage of the NSE’s products and services.

“I, therefore, use this opportunity to invite MTN Nigeria Plc and other stakeholders to partner with The exchange across the various themes of capital formation, capacity building, sustainability, and many others,” Mr Onyema stated.

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Economy

Nigerian Equities March Forward by 0.33%

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Nigerian Equities

By Dipo Olowookere

The bulls took control of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Monday, which doubled as the first trading session of the new week and month.

By the time activities were wrapped up for the day, Nigerian equities were up by 0.33 per cent as a result of a renewed buying interest, especially on the back of more positive earnings from quoted firms.

As a result, the All-Share Index (ASI) increased by 131.74 points to 39,931.63 points from 39,799.89 points, while the market capitalisation went up by N68 billion to N20.892 trillion from N20.824 trillion.

A total of 544.0 million stocks worth N1.9 billion were traded in 4,673 deals on Monday compared with the 507.2 million shares worth N2.4 billion transacted in 4,465 deals last Friday.

This showed that the trading value depreciated by 22.70 per cent, while the trading volume and the number of deals increased by 7.24 per cent and 4.66 per cent respectively.

For another trading session, Wema Bank was the most traded stock at the exchange with the sale of 369.7 million units valued at N240.3 million.

Zenith Bank transacted 20.6 million stocks for N529.1 million, Transcorp exchanged 13.0 million equities worth N11.5 million, UBA traded 11.9 million shares for N98.7 million, while United Capital exchanged 11.3 million stocks for N69.2 million.

Business Post reports that investor sentiment was negative at 0.41x on Monday as the market recorded 12 price gainers and 29 price losers.

NASCON closed as the heaviest price loser with a 9.97 per cent loss to close at N14.45 per unit and was trailed by Champion Breweries, which fell by 9.92 per cent to close at N2.27 per share.

PZ Cussons depreciated by 9.43 per cent to sell for N4.80 per unit, Lasaco Assurance dropped 8.94 per cent to quote at N1.12 per share, while Sovereign Trust Insurance declined by 7.41 per cent to finish at 25 kobo per unit.

The biggest price riser yesterday was UAC Nigeria as its equity price went up by 6.67 per cent to N8 per unit, while AIICO Insurance, which trailed, gained 5.22 per cent to settle at N1.21 per share.

Veritas Kapital appreciated by 5.00 per cent to 21 kobo per unit, BUA Cement grew by 3.82 per cent to N74.75 per share, while Neimeth gained 2.73 per cent to settle at N1.88 per unit.

For the sectors, the industrial goods and banking counters appreciated yesterday by 1.47 per cent and 0.25 per cent respectively, while the insurance, consumer goods and energy sectors lost 1.10 per cent, 0.48 per cent and 0.10 per cent respectively.

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Economy

Oil Prices Fall Ahead of Crucial OPEC+ Meeting

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oil prices fall

By Adedapo Adesanya

Oil prices plunged on Monday ahead of a key meeting of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+) scheduled for this week.

Members of the oil cartel are expected to meet in a few days to discuss happenings at the global market and it is believed that they would support the return of more supply to the fast-tightening market.

In recent times, the price of the commodity had risen but yesterday, the Brent crude futures lost $1.04 or 1.61 per cent to trade at $63.38 per barrel, while the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures dropped by 86 cents or 1.4 per cent to sell at $60.64 per barrel.

When OPEC+ meets, it must decide how much output gets restored and at what pace with current reductions amounting to just over 7 million barrels a day, or 7 per cent of global supply.

The 23-nation coalition will choose whether to revive a 500,000-barrel tranche in April, and in addition, whether Saudi Arabia will confirm if the extra 1 million barrels it voluntarily took off in February and March will return.

Market analysts believe that now that oil is back at $60, there’s going to be a push to ease the cuts but they noted that the question is how much are they going to bring back.

They also added that the biggest risk is if supply presumptions think things are back to pre-pandemic demand in 2021 and that turns out not to be the case.

The alliance gathers on Thursday and is expected to ease the output restrictions after prices got off to their best-ever start to a year.

Business Post observed yesterday, even news that the US House of Representatives recently passed President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion COVID relief package couldn’t help the market hold well in the positive territory after lifting sentiment.

The progress in the stimulus package approval after weeks of debates will now need Senate approval. If approved by the Senate, the stimulus package would pay for vaccines and medical supplies, and send a new round of emergency financial aid to households and small businesses, which will have a direct impact on energy demand.

The market also went down over data showing that Chinese oil crude consumption is slowing. China’s factory activity growth slipped to a nine-month low in February, sounding alarms over Chinese crude buying and pressuring oil prices.

Surprisingly, good economic data came out of Germany, where manufacturing saw strong growth in February, thanks to exports. Despite the lockdown in Europe’s biggest economy, German activity hit its highest level in more than three years.

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Economy

Local Currency Gains N1.05 as Turnover Drops at I&E

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local currency nigeria

By Ahmed Rahma, Adedapo Adesanya

The Naira opened the month of March stronger, recording a N1.05 or 0.26 per cent gain against the Dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window on Monday to close at N409.20/$1 in contrast to N410.25/$1 it traded at the previous session.

Going by the data obtained by Business Post from the FMDQ Securities Exchange, the strengthening of the local currency was boosted by a low turnover at the segment of the foreign exchange market yesterday.

During the session, transactions worth $24.38 million were carried out, $13.11 million or 34.9 per cent lower than the $37.49 million achieved last Friday.

At another segment of the FX market on Monday, the unregulated window also known as the black market, the Naira maintained stability against the American currency to trade at N482/$1.

Also, at the same parallel market, the value of the domestic currency when paired with the Pound Sterling and the Euro remained unchanged yesterday at N672/£1 and N583/€1 respectively.

In the same vein, the Naira further sustained its stability against the greenback at the interbank segment of the market yesterday, closing at N379/$1, while at the Bureaux De Change (BDC) window, traders have not charged the Naira/Dollar exchange rate at N395/$1, according to data from the Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON).

Meanwhile, at the cryptocurrency market on Monday, things remained bullish as more people see the possibility of digital currencies replacing fiat money in the future.

Yesterday, the Bitcoin (BTC) appreciated by 4.7 per cent to trade at N32,465,000, the Ethereum (ETH) grew by 2.7 per cent to sell at N1,020,103.50, Dash (DASH) went up by 9.6 per cent to N145,189.10, Litecoin (LTC) gained 2.5 per cent to trade at N115,801, while Tron (TRX) moved up by 1.8 per cent to N32.33.

However, Ripple (XRP) recorded a 1.5 per cent loss to trade at N293.99, while the US Dollar Tether (USDT) depreciated by 2.2 per cent to N680.

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Economy

Unlisted Securities Market Opens March With 0.77% Loss

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Unlisted Securities Market

By Adedapo Adesanya

The first trading session of the new month of March 2021 closed on a negative note on the floor of the NASD over-he-counter Securities Exchange on Monday, March 1.

The unlisted securities market was down by 0.77 per cent yesterday as investors continue to watch happenings in the country and the market from the sidelines before taking any action.

The recent news that one of the big boys on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), 11 Plc (formerly Mobil Oil Nigeria) was planning to join the NASD could not sway investors at the market during and things still remained bearish like in the past session despite a positive movement in the price of a stock on the exchange.

Business Post reports that the share price of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc closed higher by 85 kobo or 0.7 per cent from N119.43 per unit to N120.28 per unit.

Despite this, the market capitalisation of the NASD OTC Exchange suffered a N3.28 billion loss to close at N508.26 billion compared to N512.24 billion it ended last Friday.

For the NASD Unlisted Security Index (NSI), it went down by 5.52 points to close at 708.39 points as against 713.91 points of the previous trading session.

On the activity chart, the volume of securities exchanged at the bourse surged by 8,863 per cent as investors traded a total of 378,275 units as against 4,220 units traded a day before.

Also, the value of transactions skyrocketed by 13,576.46 per cent as all traded securities amounted to N43.9 million compared to N321, 600 on record last Friday.

In the same pattern, there was an improvement in the number of deals traded on Monday by 50 per cent as nine deals were executed at the Exchange against the six deals published at the preceding session.

Eight of these deals were executed on FrieslandCampina, while the remaining one deal was carried out on Central Securities Clearing Systems (CSCS) Plc.

The most active stock at the close of business at the NASD by volume (year to date) was still UBN Property Plc with 15.5 million units valued at N16.8 billion. CSCS Plc was in second place with 4.7 million units worth N73.5 million, while FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc held the third position with 2.7 million units worth N328.8 million.

But by value (year-to-date) FrieslandCampina WAMCO was the most traded stock with 2.7 million units valued at N328.8 million, Niger Delta Exploration and Production (NDEP) Plc trailed with 604,249 units worth N196 million, while CSCS Plc has traded 4.7 million units worth N73.5 million.

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