2 January 2013

Kenya: Stocks Soar in 2012 - Cautious Start Seen to 2013

Benchmark Kenyan shares rose to end the year up 29 per cent, lifted by the banking, telecoms and manufacturing sectors as investors returned in force after the market suffered a torrid 2011.

Analysts said they expected subdued activity on a cautious bourse in the first part of 2013 ahead of the first presidential election since a disputed 2007 poll unleashed deadly ethnic violence.

"Given what happened in 2008 after the elections, there is still a cloud hanging around which might cause some speculative investors to take a back seat," Ronald Lugalia, a research analyst at Africa Investment Bank, said.

The benchmark NSE-20 Share Index finished the day up 0.3 percent at 4,133.02 points, some 40 points off its 2012 high hit on Nov. 11 but 28.6 percent above its 2011 close.

This year's performance marked a turnaround for the bourse which fell 28 percent in 2011, when the central bank dithered for months in its response to a plummeting local currency ,badly knocking confidence.

When the central bank did finally jack up its key lending rate in the second half of 2011 commercial banks followed suit, raising interest rates to around 25 percent in the first half of this year before the central bank started to ease borrowing costs again.

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