The equities market opened the month of March on a positive note as bellwether stocks lifted the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) All-Share Index (ASI) by 0.95 per cent to close higher at 32,129.94, while market capitalisation added N112.9 billion to close at N12.98 trillion yesterday.
The market had closed last week with a decline but renewed buying interest in bellwethers such as Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc Dangote Cement Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, Access Bank and International Breweries Plc buoyed the positive performance yesterday.
In all, 25 stocks appreciated compared with 10 others that depreciated. McNichols Plc led the price gainers’ table with 9.8 per cent, followed by Cutix Plc with 9.7 per cent, while NPF Microfinance Bank Plc garnered 9.7 per cent. Wema Bank Plc and Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc chalked up 9.0 per cent and 8.7 per cent respectively.
Zenith Bank Plc and Dangote Cement Plc, which have declared dividends for 2018 financial year, were also among the price gainers. Equally, Access Bank Plc and Diamond Bank Plc, whose shareholders are to meet today to endorse the merger of the two financial institutions appreciated in price yesterday.
It is believed the combination of the two banks provides an exciting prospect for all stakeholders in both businesses and will create a financial institution with the scale, strength and expertise to capitalise on the significant opportunities in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa more broadly
Meanwhile, PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc led the price losers with 9.6 per cent, trailed by Livestock Feeds Plc with 8.9 per cent. Consolidated Hallmark Insurance Plc shed 7.1 per cent, just as Law Union and Rock Insurance Plc, United Capital Plc and UAC of Nigeria Plc went down by 5.4 per cent, 2.9 per cent and 2/.9 per cent respectively.
However, activity level reduced as volume and value traded dipped 33.0 per cent and 30.3 per cent to 227.8 million shares and N2.6 billion respectively. The most traded stocks by volume were Diamond Bank (33.0 million shares), UBA (31.1 million shares) and Zenith Bank Plc (28.9 million shares) while the top traded stocks by value were Zenith Bank (N703.1 million), Dangote Cement (N510.8 million) and GTBank (N391.0 million).
In terms of sectoral performance, three of five sectors tracked closed in the green. The NSE Banking Index rose 2.7 per cent, while the NSE Consumer Index and NSE Industrial Goods Index advanced 0.4 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively.