Bearish sentiment persisted in the Nigerian bourse Thursday as caution in the run-up to the 2019 elections drove sell-offs especially in market bellwethers, DANGCEM (-2.2%) and GUARANTY (-1.6%), pulling benchmark index, the NSEASI, 0.6% lower to 37,733.44 points.
Market performance on the day, which is the third in a stretch of straight losses, deteriorated year-to-date (YTD) loss to 1.3 percent while month-to-date return retreated to -0.97 percent.
Consequently market capitalization pared N88.5 billion to close N13.7 trillion.
However, activity level improved as volume and value traded rose 11.5 percent and 40.0 percent to 414.9 million units and N4.5 billion respectively.
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Top-traded stocks by volume were CHAMPION (140.4m), STERLING (47.8m) and ZENITH (26.2m) while GUARANTY (N921.6m), ZENITH (N651.8m) and DANGCEM (N599.5m) were the most traded stocks by value.
The performance across sectors was largely bullish as 3 of 5 indices trended northwards.
The industrial goods, consumer goods and insurance indices were the day’s gainers, up 1.4 percent, 0.5 percent and 0.2 percent respectively, buoyed by bargain hunting in INTBREW (+3.3%), WAPCO (+5.0%), UNILEVER (+2.5%) and NIGERIAN BREWERIES (+0.5%).
On the flipside, the banking index was the sole loser, shedding 0.7 percent on the back of sell-offs in GUARANTY (-1.6%), ZENITH (-0.4%) and DIAMOND (-3.5%). The oil & gas index closed flat, halting its six days of consecutive losses.
Investor sentiment as shown by market breadth (advance/decline ratio) strengthened to 0.8x from 0.3x recorded previously as 16 stocks advanced against 20 decliners.
The day’s top advancers were HONEYFLOUR (+9.5%), LAWUNION (+9.3%) and AIICO (+5.0%) while EQUITYASSURE (-4.5%), WEMA (-4.1%) and DIAMOND (-3.5%) were the worst performers.
Given the largely bullish sector performance and improved investor sentiment, analysts see opportunity for a market rebound on Friday, the last trading day of the week. However they urged caution, believing that continued sideways trading towards equity investing among investors, amidst the absence of a near-term one-off positive catalyst in the short-to-medium term, is very much in play.