By Investors Hub
The major U.S. index futures are pointing to a roughly flat opening on Wednesday, with stocks likely to extend the lackluster performance seen in the previous session.
Traders may be reluctant to make significant moves as they wait for developments regarding the latest round of trade talks between the U.S. and China.
Officials from the U.S. and China are meeting in Washington this week as the world’s two largest economies attempt to reach a long-term trade deal.
The U.S. and China currently face an early March deadline to strike an agreement, although President Donald Trump has suggested the deadline could be postponed.
An editorial by state-run Chinese newspaper the Global Times warned the global stock markets could face a “catastrophic strike” if Trump raises tariffs on Chinese goods as currently planned.
“In terms of avoiding such blows, the Trump administration is probably the most pressured,” the Global Times wrote. “Thus in general, by the end of the trade negotiations, China and the US have become more psychologically equal.”
“Both sides have showed their strength and volition in the unprecedented trade war: The US didn’t easily stop and China was not that fragile to be defeated,” the paper added. “However, it has proven no empty talk that in a long-term trade war, both sides would eventually lose.”
Trump has claimed China is under pressure to avoid an increase in tariffs, citing recent weakness in the Chinese economy and stock markets.
Traders are also likely to look ahead to this afternoon’s release of the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting held in late January.
The minutes may shed additional light on the Fed’s shift toward a “patient” approach regarding future interest rate hikes.
Stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading session on Tuesday as traders returned to their desks following the long holiday weekend.
After spending the morning bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line, the major averages climbed more firmly into positive territory in the afternoon.
The major averages pulled back going into the close but still ended the day modestly higher. The Dow inched up 8.07 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 25,891.32, the Nasdaq rose 14.36 points or 0.2 percent to 7,486.77 and the S&P 500 edged up 4.16 points or 0.2 percent to 2,779.76.
The choppy trading came amid uncertainty about the potential for a trade deal between the U.S. and China as the next round of trade talks get underway in Washington, D.C. this week.
News that China accused the U.S. of attempting to curtail its technology development by putting pressure on allies to shun networks supplied by Huawei Technologies raised concerns about tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
However, President Donald Trump later told reporters the U.S.-China trade talks are “going very well” and once again hinted that an early March deadline to reach a deal could be postponed.
“I can’t tell you exactly about timing, but the date is not a magical date,” Trump said in the Oval Office. “A lot of things can happen.”
Trump claimed China is “trying to move fast” so that an increase in tariffs on Chinese goods currently set to take effect does not happen.
On the U.S. economic front, the National Association of Home Builders released a report showing a much bigger than expected improvement in homebuilder confidence in the month of February.
The report said the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index climbed to 62 in February after rising to 58 in January. Economists had expected the index to inch up to 59.
With the increase, the index continued to recover after hitting a more than three-year low of 56 in December.
“Ongoing reduction in mortgage rates in recent weeks coupled with continued strength in the job market are helping to fuel builder sentiment,” said NAHB Chairman Randy Noel.
He added, “In the aftermath of the fall slowdown, many builders are reporting positive expectations for the spring selling season.”
Most of the major sectors ended the day showing only modest moves, although substantial strength was visible among gold stocks.
Reflecting the strength in the gold sector, the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index spiked by 4.4 percent to its best closing level in over seven months. The rally by gold stocks came amid a sharp increase by the price of the precious metal.
Considerable strength was also visible among brokerage stocks, as reflected by the 1.4 percent gain posted by the NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index. The index reached a three-month closing high.
On the other hand, telecom stocks saw substantial weakness on the day, dragging the NYSE Arca North American Telecom Index down by 3.1 percent. The steep drop by the index came after it skyrocketed to its best closing level in over two months last Friday.
Naira Loses 0.05% to Trade N408.80/$1 at I&E FX Window
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Naira gave up some gains made on the US Dollar at the previous session on Wednesday, February 24 at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window of the foreign exchange market.
At the previous session, after a constant plunge, the domestic currency rose to N408.60/$1 but gave up 0.05 per cent or 20 kobo of this yesterday to quote at N408.80/$1.
This happened as the demand for FX overpowered the local currency as transactions worth $212.43 million were recorded, $89.06 million or 72.2 per cent higher than the $123.37 million recorded at the preceding session.
However, at the parallel market, the domestic currency maintained its stability against the greenback on Wednesday to trade at N480/$1.
But at the same unregulated segment of the market, the Nigerian currency depreciated by N5 against the Pound Sterling to close at N670/£1 in contrast to N665/£1 it was sold on Tuesday and gained N2 against the Euro to close at N580/€1 compared to the previous trading rate of N582/€1.
At the interbank segment of the market, the value of the Naira against the Dollar still remained unchanged on Wednesday at N379/$1. It also traded flat against the American currency at the Bureaux De Change (BDC) window at N395/$.
Meanwhile, in the cryptocurrency market, which had some recorded losses recently, things are beginning to look again as all the seven digital coins tracked by Business Post closed positive.
The largest surge was recorded by Dash (DASH), which gained 30.6 per cent to sell at N169,800. It was followed by Ethereum (ETH), which made a 16.4 per cent jump to sell at N1,088,988.00, while Tron (TRX) recorded a 13.7 per cent strengthening to sell at N31.90.
Bitcoin (BTC) saw its value rise by 9.8 per cent to trade at N31,900,699, Litecoin (LTC) appreciated by 5.5 per cent to trade at N116,000, the US Dollar Tether (USDT) rose by 7.9 per cent to trade at N650.55, while Ripple (XRP) recorded a 3.4 per cent growth to trade at N301.02.
CSCS Buoys Bulls’ Return to NASD by 0.94%
By Adedapo Adesanya
After closing in the negative territory for four consecutive trading days, the NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange finished bullish on Wednesday.
Business Post reports that the unlisted securities market closed higher by 0.94 per cent at the midweek session on the back of the gains recorded by Central Securities Clearing Systems (CSCS).
The share price of the company appreciated by N1 or 6.5 per cent to settle at N16.50 per unit compared to N15.50 per unit it finished at the previous session.
This positive price movement boosted the market capitalisation of the exchange by N4.79 billion to N512.24 billion from the previous N507.45 billion.
Also, it increased the NASD Unlisted Security Index (NSI) by 6.67 points to 713.91 points from 707.24 points it finished on Tuesday.
It was not all rosy at the market yesterday as the share price of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc depreciated by 22 kobo or 0.2 per cent to trade at N119.43 per share in contrast to N119.65 per share of the preceding session.
Yesterday, the volume of trades dipped by 82.5 per cent as 41,100 units of securities were transacted by investors as against 234,152 units of securities traded on Tuesday.
Equally, the value of transactions went down by 46.9 per cent to N4.29 million from N8.1 million, while the total number of deals went up by 33.3 per cent to four deals from three deals.
These deals were performed on FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc, which accounted for three, and CSCS, which accounted for one.
Again, UBN Property Plc remained as the most active stock by volume (year to date) for trading 15.5 million units valued at N16.8 billion. CSCS Plc has exchanged 4.7 million units worth N73.2 million, while FrieslandCampina has transacted 2.3 million units worth N284.2 million.
Also, FrieslandCampina was the most traded stock by value (year-to-date) for transacting 2.3 million units valued at N284.2 million. Niger Delta Exploration and Production (NDEP) Plc has traded 603,911 units worth N195.9 million, while CSCS has traded 4.7 million units worth N73.2 million.
Brent Trades $67/Barrel Despite High Crude Inventories
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Brent crude jumped to $67 per barrel on Wednesday despite a surprising report that showed a build in crude inventories in the United States, the largest oil-producing country in the world.
During the trading session, the global benchmark, which many country use to price their crude, appreciated by 2.8 per cent or $1.85 to trade at $67.22 per barrel, while the US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude, gained $1.78 or 2.9 per cent to sell at $63.45 per barrel.
Crude oil prices went on steroids after the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a crude oil inventory build of 1.3 million barrels for the week to February 19. The build was much lower than the one the American Petroleum Institute (API) had estimated a day earlier.
The report came a day after the API estimated an oil stock build of over 1 million barrels. It also compared with analyst expectations of a 5.372-million-barrel draw for the reported week and a 7.3-million-barrel inventory draw the EIA reported for the previous week.
Last week’s frigid weather in the American state of Texas will likely keep oil prices higher for some time as production restarts slowly, and reports suggest that some of it may not return at all as companies have decided to halt production.
The bullish sentiment around the black gold could be attributed to the renewal of hopes from banks and traders, especially after Goldman Sachs said it expected prices to hit $70 and top it by the summer.
Also, confidence that a meaningful demand rebound will accompany widening vaccination availability by soon has supported prices and the production outages in the US only served to strengthen it further.
Key players in the oil market have been talking up the rising prices in the coming months, with some even floating the prospect of $100 crude in the next year or two as the global economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Still, market participants continue to observed events leading to next week’s meeting between the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting and its allies (OPEC+).
This meeting, set for March 4, is likely to set the tone into the second quarter of the year as they decide on whether to bump up production or seek even higher prices before the pick-up in demand has started to fully materialize.
Back in December, the group decided to restore 500,000 barrels a day as part of the gradual process, which was paused in January, to push the remaining 7 million withheld barrels a day back into the market.
Confusion Over Fresh Court Order on Suspended Oando AGM
By Dipo Olowookere
There seems to be confusion over a fresh court order secured by a shareholder of Oando Plc concerning the suspension of the company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).
In 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) suspended the yearly shareholders’ meeting of Oando, preventing the energy firm from meeting its obligations of filing financial statements to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
But on Tuesday, February 23, 2021, one Mr Patrick Ajudua claimed he obtained an order from Justice O. A Musa of the High Court of the FCT, Abuja, declaring the action of SEC, the apex regulator in the nation’s capital market, as illegal and unconstitutional.
It was reported that the court held that Mr Ajudua, as a member and shareholder of Oando, has a right and freedom of association and assembly with other shareholders and the right to receive information at the AGM.
Also, it was reported that a letter dated May 31, 2019, by SEC to Oando sanctioning its management was declared unconstitutional, null and void by the court because it was in violation of Mr Ajudua’s fundamental right to a fair hearing and his human right to receive information on the affairs of Oando and his interest and shares in Oando.
According to reports, the court set aside the directive of SEC suspending/postponing indefinitely the AGM of Oando because it was in violation, breach, and contravention of Mr Ajudua’s right and freedom of association and assembly with other shareholders and right to information from other shareholders and Oando Plc;
The shareholder was said to have obtained an order from the court restraining SEC and Oando from interfering with, disrupting, and or interfering with his constitutional right of association, assembly and right to receive information from other shareholders and members of Oando Plc at the postponed 2019 AGM.
He further received an order of injunction restraining SEC from acting and/or taking any steps pursuant to its letter of May 31, 2019, or interfering in any manner whatsoever with directors lawfully appointed him.
Also, Mr Ajudua was said to have secured an order directing Oando to convene and hold AGM within 90 days of the order of the court in compliance with the provisions of CAMA.
But SEC, in a statement made available to Business Post on Wednesday said it was not aware of the case or the judgment.
“The attention of the commission has been drawn to several publications in the social media, where it is reported that a shareholder of Oando Plc, purportedly obtained a judgment from the Federal Capital Territory High Court against the commission.
“The commission wishes to inform the general public that it was never at any time served with court processes with respect to the purported matter at the FCT High court.
“The commission will consequently take all necessary steps to verify and set aside the purported decision of the said court,” the statement signed by the management disclosed.
However, Mr Ajedua has described his action as “a win” for him and “all shareholders,” noting that, “The lingering delay in resolution of the conflict has brought untold hardship, financial difficulty and loss of capital appreciation on our investments.”
“Therefore, we receive this judgement with humility and the pray that with all hands on deck, we can move the company forward.
“We plead with the regulators to give peace a chance and allow for a harmonious resolution to the conflict.
“The shareholder community will continue to protect our investments by ensuring high compliance with the code of corporate governance and the integrity of the company’s operations in the capital market,” he added.
AIICO, Zenith Bank, 14 Others Lift NSE Index by 0.03%
By Dipo Olowookere
The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) was saved from the claws of the bears on Tuesday, bringing a sigh of relief to investors, who had been forced to endure a turbulent time lately.
The market appreciated by 0.03 per cent, thanks to AIICO Insurance, Zenith Bank and 14 other equities.
Zenith Bank on its part contributed chiefly to the growth witnessed yesterday as a result of the release of its 2020 full-year earnings and the declaration of N2.70 final dividend.
This announcement triggered buying pressure and lifted the All-Share Index (ASI) by 10.77 points to 40,164.86 points from 40,154.09 points and pushed the market capitalisation higher by N6 billion to N21.015 trillion from N21.009 trillion.
At the close of transactions, the volume of shares rose by 16.80 per cent to 338.0 million units from 289.3 million units, while the value of traded equities increased by 7.59 per cent to N3.9 billion from N3.6 billion, with the number of deals rising by 5.63 per cent to 5,232 deals from 4,953 deals.
For another trading day, FBN Holdings was the most active stock with the sale of 64.6 million units valued at N471.8 million, while Zenith Bank traded 52.7 million units worth N1.3 billion.
Transcorp exchanged 42.0 million equities for N38.1 million, United Capital transacted 21.0 million stocks valued at N128.2 million, while UBA traded 18.2 million shares for N153.2 million.
During the session, AIICO Insurance and Livestock Feeds topped the gainers’ table with a price appreciation of 7.14 per cent each to finish at N1.20 per unit and N2.25 per share respectively.
Flour Mills improved by 6.16 per cent to close at N31 per unit, Zenith Bank gained 4.84 per cent to trade at N26 per share, while Cutix appreciated by 4.65 per cent to sell for N2.25 per unit.
Sitting on top of the losers’ list was Sunu Assurances, which lost 9.88 per cent to settle at 73 kobo per share and was deputised by LASACO Assurances, which declined by 9.87 per cent to trade at N1.37 per unit.
Africa Prudential depreciated by 9.85 per cent to quote at N5.95 per share, ABC Transport lost 8.57 per cent to close at 32 kobo per unit, while University Press depleted by 8.53 per cent to trade at N1.18 per share.
For the sectors, only the banking index closed positive with a 1.68 per cent growth as the consumer goods and insurance sectors lost 1.61 per cent and 0.92 per cent respectively, with the energy and industrial goods counters closing flat.
Unlisted Securities Market Posts Fourth Consecutive Loss
By Adedapo Adesanya
The NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange recorded a loss on Tuesday and it was the fourth consecutive time this was happening.
During the trading session, the unlisted securities market ended in negative territory as a result of the 0.49 per cent slide it closed with.
This battered the NASD Unlisted Security Index (NSI) by 3.48 points to 707.24 points from the 710.72 points recorded at Monday’s trading session.
It equally depleted the market capitalisation of the bourse by N2.50 billion to N507.45 billion from N509.95 billion achieved the preceding day.
The bearish environment was activated by a loss in the price of Central Securities Clearing Systems (CSCS) Plc stocks by 50 kobo or 3.1 per cent, closing at N15.50 per unit compared to N16 per unit it traded a day earlier.
However, the level of trading activities improved yesterday as the volume of trades rose by 172.9 per cent to 234,152 units from Monday’s 85,800 units.
But the value of the transactions reduced yesterday by 55.7 per cent as securities worth N8.1 million exchanged hands in contrast to the previous N18.3 million.
Also, the total number of deals executed by market participants went down by 72.7 per cent as only three deals were performed at the exchange as against the 11 deals recorded on Monday.
Business Post reports that these deals were carried out on shares of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc, CSCS Plc, and Nipco Plc.
The market, which closed without a price gainer, had UBN Property Plc emerging as the most active stock by volume (year to date) with the sale pf 15.5 million units valued at N16.8 billion. CSCS Plc trailed with the sale of 4.7 million units worth N73.1 million, while FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc has traded 2.3 million units worth N280.0 million.
In terms of the most traded stock by value (year-to-date), FrieslandCampina occupied the topmost spot with the sale of 2.3 million units valued at N280.0 million. Niger Delta Exploration and Production (NDEP) Plc has exchanged 603,911 units worth N195.9 million, while CSCS has traded 4.7 million units worth N73.1 million.
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