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Brent Surges to $118 as EU Mulls Fresh Russian Sanctions

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The price of the Brent crude rose by 3.59 per cent or $3.44 to $118 per barrel on Monday night as the European Union (EU) considers fresh sanctions that will hit Russia’s energy sector and further tighten the market.

This development also lifted the price of the United States West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude higher yesterday by 4.36 per cent or $4.39 to $113.6 per barrel.

The new sanctions are being triggered by allegations of the killing of unarmed civilians by Russian forces while retreating from Ukrainian towns. The bloc vowed a new wave of severe sanctions would follow against Russia in a matter of days, including potential sanctions against Russia’s oil, gas, or coal exports.

It admitted that “Haunting images of large numbers of civilian deaths and casualties, as well as the destruction of civilian infrastructures, show the true face of the brutal war of aggression Russia is waging against Ukraine and its people.”

“The massacres in the town of Bucha and other Ukrainian towns will be inscribed in the list of atrocities committed on European soil,” the EU said in a statement on Monday.

“The EU will continue to firmly support Ukraine and will advance, as a matter of urgency, work on further sanctions against Russia. President Putin must stop this war immediately and unconditionally,” the EU added.

Europe to date has ceased to target directly Russian energy exports fearing that sanctions or an embargo could lead to a deep recession in the major European economies, including the biggest one, Germany.

Germany has so far been one of the staunchest opponents of an energy embargo on Russia, but after photos of Russian atrocities in Bucha and other Ukrainian towns emerged, the mood appears to be shifting even in the country.

Now, the EU looks likely to discuss a ban on the import of Russian natural gas this week.

This provides a major shift after crude dropped more than 10 per cent last week after US President Joe Biden announced a record oil reserves release and as International Energy Agency members committed to further tapping reserves.

Mr Biden announced the biggest ever release of oil from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR)—180 million barrels over six months which is one million additional barrels on the market per day on average – every day – for the next six months.

Support also came as a pause in talks in Vienna to revive the Iran nuclear deal, which would allow the lifting of sanctions on Iranian oil.

Meanwhile, geopolitical pressure may begin to ease following a truce in Yemen, which could lessen threats to supply in the Middle East.

The United Nations brokered a two-month truce between a Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi group aligned with Iran for the first time in the seven-year conflict.

Saudi oil facilities have come under Houthi attack during the fighting with the recent attack coming last month after they attacked a petroleum products distribution terminal, a natural gas plant, a refinery as well as a water desalination plant, a power station and a gas facility in the kingdom.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

Economy

NGX Spurs Capital Market Innovation to Attract Investors

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By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited has disclosed that the NGX Made of Africa Awards will spur the next phase of capital market innovation to attract more investors into the space.

On Tuesday, December 6, 2022, the exchange held the award ceremony in Lagos to recognise innovativeness and compliance with best practices in the Nigerian capital market for the calendar year.

The event spotlighted excellence, creativity and integrity as NGX sought to amplify the activities of its stakeholders to further reinforce the values that attract investors to the market and grow the African economy.

Players in the capital market ranging from issuers, securities dealers, issuing houses, fund managers, trustees, legal firms and stakeholders, including the media and content creators were rewarded for their contributions to the development of the market.

In his opening remarks, the Chairman of NGX, Mr Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud, explained that the goal of the exchange with the awards is to further catalyse innovation, corporate performance, shareholder return, compliance to rules and regulation in driving investor confidence and aiding regulatory oversight on the market.

“It is essential that we continue to collaborate, encourage and incentivise our partners through initiatives like the NGX Made of Africa Awards. At NGX, relationships, partnerships, collaboration and inclusivity continue to drive our actions in the quest to spotlight The Stock Africa is Made Of,” he said.

On his part, the chief executive of the bourse, Mr Temi Popoola, said the event had been reviewed to reflect the dynamism of the capital market and the transformation it had witnessed so far.

“We are delighted to be extending the reach of these Awards to further highlight our commitment to inclusivity, innovation and integrity whilst highlighting NGX as the platform of choice to raise capital,” he stated.

In his goodwill message, the Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, highlighted the importance of the capital market to the economy, calling together all stakeholders to move Nigeria towards a more productive economy and less import-dependent.

He also noted that NGX has continued to stand out as a market infrastructure of choice for public and private sector capital formation.

Also, the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr Lamido Yuguda, represented by the Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services, Mr Ibrahim Boyi, said that the commission had championed innovative measures that have improved the market, including dematerialisation, direct cash settlement and e-dividend.

“The long-term sustainability in the market requires innovation of which the fundamental outcome was a maximum return on investment, reduction in the cost of doing business and increased production,” he said.

Speaking on the African capital market potentials, Mr Aigboje Aig-Imokuede, the Chairman of Coronation Capital and a former President of the Council of the Nigerian Stock Exchange pre-demutualisation, said that after a long haul of liquidity in global markets, central banks across the globe are implementing hawkish monetary policies to revive price stability and tame inflationary pressures.

He noted that the capital market in this period of restrained global growth had an important role to play in stimulating economic growth and development through the efficient allocation of resources.

Business Post reports that a few of the awardees were Dangote Cement as Best Issuer in Terms of Number of Fixed Income Listings; Lafarge Africa as Leader in Sustainability Reporting; Pilot Securities Limited as Most Compliant Trading License Holder; Aluko and Oyebode as Best Solicitor in terms of Value of Deals; and Coronation Securities Limited as Best Sponsoring Trading License Holder of the Year. Lagos State won the State with the Largest Sub-national Debt Instrument; MTN Nigeria Communications won the Most Compliant Listed Company; CardinalStone Securities won the Best Trading License Holder Across Asset Classes; BUA Foods was awarded the Listing of the Year; and Capital Markets Correspondent Association (CAMCAN) won Capital Market Reportage.

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Economy

Crude Oil Prices Fall To Lowest Levels in 10 Months

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The prices of the crude oil grades in the market fell to their lowest levels this year on Wednesday, losing all of the gains they had accumulated since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Brent futures fell by $2.18 or 2.8 per cent to trade at $77.17 a barrel, as the United States West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures depreciated by $2.24 to $72.01 per barrel.

Oil surged to nearly $140 a barrel in March, close to an all-time record, following the launch of what Russia tagged a “special operation” in Ukraine a month earlier.

The market has been steadily declining recently as economists brace for weakened worldwide growth in part due to high energy costs.

The situation worsened on Wednesday with bigger-than-expected increases in US fuel inventories despite a drop in crude stocks.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported an inventory decline of 5.2 million barrels for the week of December 2 compared with a sizeable draw of 12.6 million barrels estimated for the previous week, which sent prices higher at the time.

A day before the EIA released its report, the American Petroleum Institute estimated another weekly crude inventory draw for the week to December 2 at 6.43 million barrels.

Meanwhile, the EIA also reported an inventory build in fuel and another rise in middle distillate stocks for the week to December 2. Gasoline (petrol) inventories added 5.3 barrels in the week to December 2, with production averaging 9.1 million barrels daily, in contrast to a build of 2.8 million barrels for the previous week and a production rate of 9.4 million barrels daily.

Prices are also slipping further down as traders relax about the potential consequences of the G7 and EU price cap on Russian oil.

It appears they have assumed that it would not affect the availability of oil in any significant way and are selling crude.

Analysts also note that Russian oil is already trading close to the cap, so it shouldn’t make much of a difference in revenues, but it is worth remembering Russia has said it would not sell oil to countries that enforce the price cap, meaning the supply of Russian oil specifically might tighten for some importers.

Russia has also threatened to set a price floor for its oil in response to the G7 price cap, which may further complicate matters.

Support came as China, the world’s biggest crude importer, announced the most sweeping changes to its anti-COVID regime since the pandemic began. The country’s crude oil imports in November rose 12 per cent from a year earlier to their highest in 10 months, data showed.

Still, warnings from big US banks about a likely recession next year weighed on the value of the commodity.

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Economy

Nigerian Stocks Maintain Upward Trajectory Amid Weak Investor Sentiment

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weak investor sentiment

By Dipo Olowookere

The Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited closed higher for the fourth consecutive trading day by 0.12 per cent on Wednesday amid a weak investor sentiment.

At the midweek session, 17 equities shed weight, more than the 12 equities that gained weight. It was observed that traders embarked on profit-taking, but the gains by stocks in the consumer goods sector, especially Nigerian Breweries and Honeywell Flour, left the bourse in the green territory at the close of transactions.

Consequently, the All-Share Index (ASI) rose by 59.80 points to 48,426.49 points from 48,366.69 points, while the market capitalisation, while the market capitalisation jumped by N33 billion to N26.377 trillion from N26.344 trillion.

Yesterday, the consumer goods counter appreciated by 0.96 per cent, the industrial goods sector closed flat, while the insurance, banking and energy indices depreciated by 0.55 per cent, 0.17 per cent, and 0.08 per cent, respectively.

A total of 146.2 million stocks worth N3.4 billion exchanged hands in 2,810 deals on Wednesday compared with the 184.7 million stocks worth N3.6 billion traded in 3,189 deals on Tuesday, representing a decline in the trading volume, value and number of deals by 20.85 per cent, 5.56 per cent, and 11.88 per cent apiece.

FBN Holdings traded the highest number of stocks during the session, 59.3 million units, followed by Geregu, which sold 14.3 million units. Zenith Bank transacted 12.5 million stocks, Sterling Bank exchanged 7.0 million equities, and UBA traded 6.9 million shares.

The best-performing equity on Wednesday was Thomas Wyatt, which improved its share price by 10.00 per cent to close at 44 Kobo. Japaul gained 7.41 per cent to end at 29 Kobo, Honeywell Flour appreciated by 6.14 per cent to N2.42, May and Baker rose by 5.26 per cent to N4.00, and Nigerian Breweries grew by 4.62 per cent to N38.50.

The worst-performing stock yesterday was SCOA Nigeria, which dropped 9.38 per cent to sell for 87 Kobo. Unity Bank depreciated by 7.02 per cent to 53 Kobo, Cornerstone Insurance fell by 6.25 per cent to 45 Kobo, Courteville shrank by 6.00 per cent to 47 Kobo, and Chams lost 4.35 per cent to trade at 22 Kobo.

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