Commercial banks were the top gainers at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) #ticker:NSE in March as indices and turnover rose to the highest levels this year.
Out of the top 10 gainers, seven counters were banks that rose by between 10.1 and 22.7 per cent during the month.
According to data compiled by Standard Investment Bank (SIB), Equity Bank was the top gainer at 22.7 per cent to hit a price of Sh54 per share. The smallest gain among the banks was by KCB Group at 10.1 per cent.
Equity Bank also attracted the largest portion of foreign investors with 69.4 per cent of turnover transacted by foreigners.
KCB Group #ticker:KCB attracted the second largest foreign portion in the transactions at 66.1 per cent.
"The trading is normally dominated by foreign investors and the total trading is still quite limited to less than five per cent in terms of turnover as a proportion of total market capitalisation," said Job Kihumba, executive director at Standard Investment Bank.
Mr Kihumba said local investors need to trade more by taking advantage of price changes if there is to be increased turnover.
The prices of NSE blue chips as represented by the NSE 20 Index rose by 2.5 per cent in March, higher than the 0.4 per cent in February and 0.7 per cent in January.
Overall, the NSE 20 rose by 3.6 per cent in the first quarter while the NASI rose by 11.7 per cent and the market cap-weighted NSE 25 Index rose by 15.9 per cent.
Rise in turnover
The turnover in March rose to about Sh23 billion (in dollar terms) compared to Sh18 billion in February and Sh20 billion in January.
The exits by profit-taking foreign investors slowed to Sh1.1 billion in March compared to about Sh5 billion in February and Sh1.4 billion in January.
Apart from banks, there were three nonfinancial companies on the list of the top 10 gainers in March, including Express Kenya, East African Breweries Limited (EABL) and Total Kenya whose prices rose by 30.7, 10.9 and 10.1 per cent respectively in the month.
The biggest losers were Athi River Mining,#ticker:ARM Kenya Airways ticker:KQ and Trans-Century with 26.7, 23.6 and 21.9 per cent shaved off their quoted prices respectively in March.
In terms of turnover, Safaricom, Equity Bank and KCB Group accounted for 23.8, 21.6 and 16.3 per cent respectively of the total during the month.