The equities market recorded a marginal decline of 0.05 per cent on the first day full remote trading commenced following the closure of all trading floors by the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NSE All-Share Index fell to 21,729.48, from 21,741.16 yesterday. Although there were more price gainers than losers, depreciation suffered by MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, Total Nigeria Plc led to the negative close.
In all, 20 stocks appreciated, while seven stocks depreciated. Total Nigeria Plc led the price losers with 10 per cent, trailed by African Prudential Plc with 9.8 per cent. Jaiz Bank Plc shed 8.1 per cent, just as FCMB Group Plc went down by 3.8 per cent. MTN Nigeria Communications Plc fell 2.9 per cent.
On the positive side, Cutix Plc led the price gainers with 10 per cent, followed by Cadbury Nigeria Plc with 9.7 per cent. Neimeth Pharmaceuticals International Plc and Prestige Assurance Plc appreciated by 9.0 per cent apiece.
However, the volume of trading fell 29.3 per cent to 233.47 million shares worth N2.24 billion in 3,874 deals, compared with 330.102 million shares valued at N3.568 billion exchanged in 4,561 deals the previous day.
The Chief Executive Officer of NSE, Mr. Oscar Onyema had on Monday announced the closure of the exchange’s trading floors and adoption of remote trading for 30 days effective yesterday. The decision is part of measures to contain the spread of the Coronavirus.
“Over three weeks ago, we activated precautionary health measures across our offices where we screened visitors with thermometers, provided sanitisers and minimised access into our premises. Further to this and with the significant growth in new cases, effective Tuesday, March 24, 2020, we have activated a 30-day remote working plan for our employees excluding essential staff. In order to give our dealing members enough notice, effective Wednesday, March 25 , 2020 all our trading floors will be temporarily closed, although remote trading will continue and NSE staff will be available through all our digital platforms to provide support. We regret any inconvenience this may cause in the discharge of your business activities, but we must act in the best interest of all stakeholders at this time,” Onyema said.
According to him, in line with their robust Business Continuity Management framework, they would like to reassure stakeholders that they have put in place measures to ensure their operations and trading activities continue seamlessly throughout this period.
He said: “As an exchange, we will ensure that all relevant information continues to flow into the market to ensure the pricing of risk assets remains transparent and reliable across asset classes to allow investors to value their portfolios and make informed investment decisions under these volatile conditions