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Economy

Yellen Congressional Testimony in Focus on Wall Street

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The major U.S. index futures are pointing to a roughly flat opening on Tuesday, as traders look ahead to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s semiannual monetary policy testimony before the Senate Banking Committee.

Yellen’s remarks are likely to be closely watched for any clues regarding the outlook for the next interest rate hike by the Fed.

Stocks moved mostly higher during trading on Monday, extending the uptrend trend seen over the past several sessions. With the upward move on the day, the major averages once again climbed to new record closing highs.

The major averages ended the day firmly in positive territory but off their highs of the session. The Dow advanced 142.79 points or 0.7 percent to 20,412.16, the Nasdaq rose 29.83 points or 0.5 percent to 5,736.96 and the S&P 500 climbed 12.15 points or 0.5 percent to 2,328.15.

The markets continued to benefit from recent upward momentum spurred in part by optimism about reduced corporate taxes under President Donald Trump.

The strength on Wall Street came despite a lack of major U.S. economic data, although the economic calendar picks up considerably over the next several days.

A report on producer price inflation is due on Tuesday, while a slew of data is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, including reports on consumer prices, retail sales and industrial production.

Reports on regional manufacturing activity, housing starts, and homebuilder confidence are also scheduled to be released this week.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s semi-annual testimony before Congress is also likely to attract attention along with speeches by a number of other Fed officials.

Steel stocks showed a substantial move to the upside on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Steel Index up by 3.8 percent. With the jump, the index has reached best closing level in well over two years.

Considerable strength was also visible among financial stocks, with the Dow Jones Banks Index and the NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index climbing by 1.2 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

Airline and electronic storage stocks also saw notable strength, while gold stocks bucked the uptrend amid a decrease by the price of the precious metal.

US Economic Reports

Primarily reflecting a jump in energy prices, the Labor Department released a report showing that U.S. producer prices rose by more than expected in the month of January.

The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand climbed by 0.6 percent in January after rising by 0.2 percent in December. Economists had expected prices to increase by 0.3 percent.

Excluding food and energy prices, core consumer prices rose by 0.4 percent in January following a 0.1 percent uptick in December. Core prices had been expected to climb by 0.2 percent.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to give her semiannual monetary policy testimony before the Senate Banking Committee beginning at 10 am ET.

At 12:50 pm ET, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart is due to speak at the Huntsville Rotary Club regarding crisis, recession, and recovery in Huntsville, Alabama.

Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion at the Greater Houston Port Bureau luncheon in Houston, Texas, at 1 pm ET.

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

Wema Bank, Champion Breweries Weaken Stock Market by 0.74%

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wema-bank-logo

By Dipo Olowookere

Another loss was recorded at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Friday as a sell-off in financial, consumer goods and industrial goods equities weakened the market by 0.74 per cent.

As a result, the All-Share Index (ASI) decreased by 295.60 points to 39,799.89 points from 40,095.49 points, while the market capitalisation reduced by N154 billion to N20.824 trillion from N20.978 trillion.

Business Post reports that the insurance sector depreciated yesterday by 2.32 per cent, the banking index lost 0.48 per cent, the consumer goods space fell by 0.40 per cent, while the industrial goods counter depreciated by 0.19 per cent, with the energy sector rising by 0.25 per cent.

It was observed that the investor sentiment, which is measured by the market breadth, was negative at the last trading session of the week due to the 24 declining stocks and 17 advancing equities.

Wema Bank and Champion Breweries depreciated by 10 per cent each on Friday to settle at 63 kobo per share and N2.52 per unit respectively.

Sunu Assurances depleted by 9.59 per cent to 66 kobo per share, Africa Prudential lost 5.74 per cent to N5.75 per unit, Axa Mansard Insurance dropped 5.36 per cent to settle at N1.06 per share.

After recording losses for a few days after its share reconstruction, Lasaco Assurance gained 9.82 per cent yesterday to top the risers chart, closing at N1.23 per share.

Mutual Benefits appreciated by 8.11 per cent to 40 kobo per unit, Courtville grew by 5.00 per cent to 21 kobo per share, Oando improved by 2.99 per cent to N3.45 per unit, while NAHCO gained 2.70 per cent to settle at N2.28 per share.

Wema Bank witnessed a significant trading volume on Friday, emerging as the most traded stock after it sold 304.5 million shares worth N197.3 million.

FBN Holdings exchanged 30.8 million shares for N226.1 million, Zenith Bank traded 26.6 million stocks valued at N677.4 million, Transcorp transacted 22.9 million equities worth N20.7 million, while United Capital exchanged 17.2 million stocks for N104.6 million.

At the close of transactions, the trading volume rose by 55.58 per cent to 507.3 million from 326.0 million, while the trading value reduced by 34.22 per cent to N2.4 billion from N3.7 billion, with the number of deals declining by 2.23 per cent to 4,465 deals from 4,567 deals.

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Economy

NASD Exchange Extends Stay in Flat Domain Friday

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NASD Exchange bullish

By Adedapo Adesanya

Unlisted securities admitted on the trading platform of the NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange extended their stay in the flat territory on Friday, February 26.

On the preceding trading day, stocks on the exchange closed flat and yesterday, they remained unchanged as none of them recorded any price movement.

As a result, the total value of securities at the OTC market, which is measured by the market capitalisation, remained static at N512.24 billion, while the NASD Unlisted Security Index (NSI) ended at 713.91 points, the same level it was at the previous trading session.

However, there were movements on the activity chart as the volume of securities transacted by investors at the bourse dropped again by 15.6 per cent to 4,220 units on Friday from the 4,998 units recorded on Thursday.

Equally, the value of transactions dropped by 51.5 per cent as the market participants to traded securities worth N321,600 compared to N662,700 of the previous day.

But the number of deals executed by the traders increased by 200 per cent to six deals in contrast to the two deals carried out a day earlier.

These deals were executed on FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc (five deals) and Central Securities Clearing Systems (CSCS) Plc (one deal).

By the time the market closed for the day and week, the company with the highest number of shares traded by investors on a year-to-date basis was UBN Property Plc with the sale of 15.5 million units valued at N16.8 billion. CSCS Plc was in second place with 4.7 million units worth N73.2 million, while FrieslandCampina held the third position with 2.3 million units worth N285.1 million.

On the other hand, FrieslandCampina ended the session as the most traded stock by value (year-to-date) with 2.3 million units valued at N285.1 million. Niger Delta Exploration and Production (NDEP) Plc trailed with 604,249 units of its securities valued at N196 million, while CSCS Plc has traded 4.7 million units worth N73.2 million.

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Economy

Naira Crashes to N410.25/$1 at I&E, N482/$1 at Black Market

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Black Market

By Adedapo Adesanya

It was an unfavourable outcome for the Naira at both the Investors and Exporters (I&E) and parallel market segments of the foreign exchange market on Friday, February 26.

Yesterday, the local currency was further weakened against the United States Dollar at the two opposite market segments.

At the specialised market, the I&E, the Naira lost N1.58 or 0.39 per cent to finish at N410.25/$1 compared to N408.67/$1 of the previous day.

The depreciation came despite less pressure on the domestic currency as the turnover at the window reduced by 14.7 per cent or $6.48 million to $37.49 million from $43.97 million of the preceding session.

A looking at the performance of the local currency at the black market showed that it shed N2 or 0.42 per cent to close at N482/$1 in contrast to N480/$1 it traded on Thursday.

Also, at the same window, the local currency suffered a N2 loss against the Pound Sterling to close at N672/£1 versus the previous day’s N670/£1, while against the Euro, the Naira lost N3 to close at N583/€1 compared with the preceding day’s N580/€1.

However, at the interbank segment of the market, the domestic currency still remained flat against the US Dollar at N379/$1 and at the Bureaux De Change (BDC) window, the value of the Nigerian currency against the greenback remained at N395/$.

At the cryptocurrency market, most of the tokens tracked by Business Post on Friday closed bearish as only one finished stronger, based on data obtained from Quidax.

The Bitcoin (BTC) lost 0.3 per cent to trade at N32,100,018, Ethereum (ETH) depreciated by 3.6 per cent to sell at N1,015,000, while Litecoin (LTC) declined by 1.8 per cent to trade at N123,997.

Furthermore, the Dash (DASH) dropped 4.3 per cent to sell at N152,093.10, Ripple (XRP) fell by 2.1 per cent to trade at N300.62, while Tron (TRX) declined by 1.01 per cent to sell at N31.32.

The only coin which closed stronger was the US Dollar Tether (USDT) as its value went up by 5.7 per cent to quote at N721.88.

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Economy

Oil Dips on Stronger Dollar, Fear of Supply Increase

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oil weak dollar

By Adedapo Adesanya

Oil prices fell on Friday as gains in the U.S. Dollar and expectations that more supply will likely to come back to the market depressed the market environment.

Consequently, the Brent crude dropped 1.1 per cent or 75 cents sell at $66.13 per barrel, while the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude dipped  $2.01 or 3.2 per cent to sell at $61.52 per barrel.

A stronger greenback makes US-Dollar priced oil more expensive for those buying crude in other currencies and this saw prices drop.

Despite the decline in prices on Friday, both Brent and WTI are on track for gains of about 20 per cent this month, as markets have grappled with supply disruptions in the United States, while optimism has built for demand to improve with vaccine rollouts.

Investors are betting that next week’s meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, together called OPEC+, will result in more supply coming back to the market.

Oil prices have more than recovered to levels before the COVID-19 pandemic with global inventories trending down amid accelerating vaccine rollouts.

US crude prices on Friday faced a larger headwind due to the loss of refinery demand after several Gulf Coast facilities were shuttered during the winter storm last week.

Estimates show that this is about 4 million barrels per day of capacity still shut and it may take until March 5 for all of the shut capacity to resume though there is the risk of delays.

In other oil-related news, the OPEC+ group of producers complied at 103 per cent with the oil output cuts in January, higher than the estimated compliance in December, according to the sources with the cartel.

According to reports, in January 2021, the 10 OPEC members bound by the pact achieved 108 per cent compliance, while the non-OPEC group of producers, led by Russia, complied with the cuts by 95 per cent, up from 93 per cent in December.

The compliance figures will be reviewed by the OPEC+ panels next week, before the monthly meeting of the group’s ministers, expected to decide how the group will proceed with the supply management from April onwards

The leaders of the OPEC+ alliance, Saudi Arabia and Russia, are reportedly once again at odds over oil production policies, especially in light of the oil price rally so far this year.

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Economy

Osinbajo Opposes CBN Cryptocurrency Ban, Backs Regulation

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Osinbajo Cryptocurrency Trading

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has disagreed with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the ban on cryptocurrency trading in the country.

A few weeks ago, the apex bank directed financial institutions in the country to close all bank accounts of persons or organisations trading the digital currencies.

It was speculated that the central bank prohibited crypto trading because the youths used the means to fund the 2020 EndSARS protests across the nation.

Speaking at a one-day economic summit, the Vice President advised the CBN to take a critical look into the policy and come up with ways to regulate the system.

According to him, rather than adopt a policy that prohibits cryptocurrency operations in the country, “we must act with knowledge and not fear” and develop a robust regulatory regime that is thoughtful and knowledge-based.

“I fully appreciate the strong position of the CBN, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and some of the anti-corruption agencies on the possible abuses of cryptocurrencies and their other well-articulated concerns. But I believe that their position should be the subject of further reflection.

“There is a role for regulation here. And it is in the place of both our monetary authorities and SEC to provide a robust regulatory regime that addresses these serious concerns without killing the goose that might lay the golden eggs.

“So, it should be thoughtful and knowledge-based regulation, not prohibition. The point I am making is that some of the exciting developments we see the call for prudence and care in adopting them, but we must act with knowledge and not fear,” Mr Osinbajo said at the event organised by the CBN, the Banker’s Committee and the Vanguard Newspaper.

At the summit themed Bankers’ Initiative for Economic Growth, the Vice President emphasised the need for monetary authorities to rethink their stand on cryptocurrencies.

“There is no question that blockchain technology generally and cryptocurrencies, in particular, will in the coming years challenge traditional banking, including reserve (central) banking, in ways that we cannot yet imagine. So, we need to be prepared for that seismic shift and it may come sooner than later,” he added.

“Already, remittance systems are being challenged. Blockchain technology will provide far cheaper options for the kind of fees being paid today for cross-border transfers.

“I am sure you are all aware of the challenge that the traditional SWIFT system is facing from new systems like Ripple which is based on the blockchain distributed ledger technology with its own crypto tokens.

“There are, of course, a whole range of digital assets spawned daily from block-chain technology. Decentralized finance, using smart contracts to create financial instruments, in place of central financial intermediaries such as banks or brokerages is set to challenge traditional finance.

“The likes of Nexo finance offer instant loans using cryptocurrency as collateral. Some reserve banks are investigating issuing their own digital currencies,” Mr Osinbajo stated.

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Economy

Imasayi Cashew Plant in Ogun Resumes Operations

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Imasayi Cashew Plant

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Ogun State government has revived its cashew processing plant at Imasayi by partnering with an indigenous agro-allied processing company, J22 Concerns Limited in Kajola.

The Commissioner for Industry, Trade and Investment in the state, Mrs Kikelomo Longe, explained that this was part of efforts to boost the processing and exportation of cashew nuts.

Represented by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr Olu Ola Aikulola, who presented the letter of award to the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Mr Yinka Akintola, at the Palace of the Olu of Imasayi, Imasayi, Yewa North Local Government Area, the Commissioner said the present administration decided to operationalise the plant which has been unused since 2018 to enhance the socio-economic development of the people.

Mrs Longe called on relevant stakeholders and the people of Imasayi to support the investor in enhancing the cashew nut value chain through increased production of cashew nuts and sale for processing instead of selling them raw.

“We should team up with the investor to ensure the best use of this cashew processing plant. We want a situation whereby the cashew nuts grown in Imasayi will be processed in Imasayi.

“This will boost the cashew value chain and bring about development for the people, create job opportunities and lead to an improvement in the people’s standard of living,” she said.

The Commissioner assured that the Mr Dapo Abiodun-led administration remains committed to making Ogun State investors’ prefererred choice of destination as well as promoting policies such as the Public-Private-Partnership which would lead to the development of the agricultural value chain.

Also speaking, the Trade Promotion Advisor/ Head, Abeokuta Smart Office, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr Samson Idowu, said only 10 per cent of the 240 metric tonnes of cashew nuts grown in Nigeria is processed.

Mr Idowu said the need to diversify the economy from dependence on oil through increased cashew nut processing and exportation made the council donate the processing machine to the state in 2018 and also train the farmers on the latest techniques in cashew nut processing, adding that increased processing of the cash crop has the potential of making the gateway state an export hub.

The Chief Executive Officer of J22 Concerns Limited, Mr Yinka Akintola, said the company intends to process 500 kilograms of cashew nuts daily noting that the utilisation of the machine would create employment opportunities for indigenes of the area and bring about human capital development among the people.

He added that his company would also help cashew farmers in Imasayi and its environs expand their acreage of cashew plantation and yield as well as help position farmers in groups so as to access more funding for their business.

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