By Goddy Egene
The bears returned to the local bourse yesterday pulling, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) All-Share Index (ASI) down by 0.19 per cent to close at 40,494.35. The market had opened for the week on positive note after two weeks of decline, raising hopes that the bargain hunting could be sustained.
However, sell-offs in Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, Nigerian Breweries Plc and Zenith Bank Plc, FBN Holdings Plc, Access Bank Plc, among others led to a negative close. A total of 20 stocks depreciated as against 22 stocks that appreciated.
The top of the gainers’ table was dominated by insurance stocks led by Cornerstone Insurance Plc shed 10 per cent. Consolidated Hallmark Insurance Plc trailed with 9.5 per cent, just as Prestige Assurance Plc and Coronation Insurance Plc went down by 8.5 per cent and 8.3 per cent respectively.
Despite announcing an improved profit for 2020 financial year, Mutual Benefits Assurance Plc declined by 6.5 per cent yesterday. Mutual Benefits Assurance Plc last week reported a profit before tax of N5.114 billion for the year ended December 31, 2020, showing an increase of 35 per cent compared with N3.772 billion recorded in 2019. The underwriting firm posted gross premium written of N20.194 billion in 2020, compared with N18.698 billion in 2019. Net underwritten income stood at N16.7 billion, while profit after tax printed at N4.548 billion as against N3.612 billion.
Another insurance company, Linkage Assurance Plc was also among the price losers, shedding 5.08 per cent just as Stanbic IBTC depreciated by 4.4 per cent.
Ecobank Transnational Incorporation Plc and Nigerian Breweries Plc lost 4.3 per cent and 3.2 per cent in that order, just as Honeywell Flour Mills Plc and UACN Property Development Company Plc dipped by 3.1 per cent and 2.3 per cent respectively.
On the positive side, Ardova Plc led the price gainers with 9.06 per cent, trailed by Multiverse Mining with 8.3 per cent. Wema Bank Plc added 7.6 per cent, just as Guinness Nigeria Plc and Tripple Gee chalked up 7.3 per cent and 6.6 per cent respectively.
Other top price gainers included: AIICO Insurance Plc (5.9 per cent); UAC of Nigeria Plc (5.7 per cent); CAP Plc (5.5 per cent ); Courtville Business Solutions Plc (5.0 per cent) and African Prudential Plc (4.5 per cent).
Activity level improved as volume and value traded advanced 72.8 per cent and 166.3 per cent respectively to 356.4 million shares and N5.8 billion.