Following price losses suffered by most bluechip stocks, especially Prestige Assurance and Union Diagnostic, transactions on the equity sector of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) re-opened on a downturn yesterday, causing market capitalisation to dip by N96 billion.

Yesterday, the All-Share Index shed 263.87 absolute points or 0.68 per cent to close at 38,664.15 points, while the market capitalization settled at N14.006 trillion after N96 billion decline.

The downturn was caused by losses recorded in medium and large capitalised stocks, among which are Unilever Nigeria, Forte Oil, Flour Mills Nigeria, Nascon Allied Industries and Zenith Bank.

Analysts at APT Securities and Funds Limited said: “Gains, so far, have been impaired by three consecutive down days of inactivity. However, we expect more positive stance to recoup gains as it appears there is still more room for an upward trend in anticipation of half year results.”

Also, the Chief Research Officer of Investdata Consulting Limited, Ambrose Omordion, said: “We expect mixed performance with less profit booking as earnings’ reports for March start rolling in, adding more impetus to the market, especially if the numbers beat expectations. However, let the upbeat economic data and company numbers guide your investment decisions.

“Meanwhile, dividend income players are taking position ahead of more economic data, amid the expected sustained volatility and repositioning. However, we would like to reiterate that investors should not panic but go for equities with intrinsic value, especially as interim dividend payment is approaching,” he added.

Further breakdown of yesterday’s trading showed that market breadth closed negative, with 12 gainers against 34 losers.

Prestige Assurance led the losers’ chart by 6.25 per cent, to close at 60 kobo per share. Union Diagnostic and Clinical Services followed with a decline of five per cent to close at 38 kobo, while Flour Mills Nigeria depreciated by 4.89 per cent to close at N31.15 per share.

Forte Oil declined by 4.87 per cent to close at N35.15 and Fidelity Bank also shed 4.85 per cent to close at N2.16 per share.

On the other hand, International Breweries topped the gainers’ chart with 6.54 per cent, to close at N44 per share. Japaul Oil followed with a gain of 5.26 per cent to close at 40 kobo, while C&I Leasing gained 5.20 per cent to close at N1.82 per share.

Eterna rose by 4.92 per cent to close at N6.61, while Ikeja Hotel rose 4.91 per cent to close at N2.99 per share.

The total volume traded appreciated by 16 per cent to 390.47 million shares, worth N6.12 billion, and traded in 3,889 deals.

Transactions in the shares of UBA topped the activity chart with 123 million shares valued at N1.3 billion. Zenith Bank followed with 35.8 million shares worth N919.94 billion, while Access Bank traded 34.83 million shares valued at N365.54 million.

Cement Company of Northern Nigeria (CCNN) traded 32.7 million shares valued at N850.36 million, while Guaranty Trust Bank transacted 23.01 million shares worth N927.14 million.

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