The bears returned to take control of the stock market thursday, pulling the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) All-Share Index (ASI) lower by 0.37 per cent to close at 26.357.61. The NSE ASI declined despite a rise in the volume and value of trading.
The market had begun the week with a growth of 0.54 per cent on Tuesday. However, the positive trend could not be sustained Thursday as the bears returned following losses suffered by 15 stocks as against 13 stocks that depreciated.
When the market recovered last week after declining for five consecutive weeks, some analysts were skeptical about the sustainability of the recovery.
For instance, analysts at Afrinvest West Africa said they did not expect the positive trend to be sustained in subsequent weeks due to weak investor sentiment towards equities.
"However, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently restricted individuals, local corporates and non-banking financial institutions from participating in both the primary and secondary markets for Open Market Operations (OMOs). Following this directive, we expect investors' focus to shift towards equities due to current low prices and attractive dividend yields," they said.
Similarly, analysts at Cordros Capital Limited, said the market was a reflection of investors' views about the expectations for the economy given the still uninspiring macro story.
"Nonetheless, we expect the market might benefit over the short-term from recent policy directions as investors seek alpha-yielding opportunities in the face of lower yields in the fixed income market," they said.
Meanwhile, Total Nigeria Plc and PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc led the price losers' table with 9.9 per cent apiece, trailed by Consolidated Hallmark Insurance Plc with 7.1 per cent.
Unilever Nigeria Plc and Oando Plc shed 5.6 per cent and 3.9 per cent in that order, while Continental Reinsurance Plc, GTBank Plc and Honeywell Flour Mills Plc depreciated by 2.5 per cent, 2.4 per cent and 1.9 per cent in that order.
On the positive side, Ikeja Hotel Plc led the price gainers with 9.0 per cent, followed by A.G Leventis Nigeria Plc and Jaiz Bank Plc with 7.1 per cent each. Fidelity Bank Plc and Access Bank Plc appreciated by 3.8 per cent and 3.1 per cent respectively.
The volume trading rose by 61.3 per cent to 610.58 million shares worth N11.1 billion in 5,031 deals. The most active stocks by volume were Zenith Bank Plc (336.6 million shares), Access Bank Plc (73.8 million shares) and Nigerian Breweries Plc (63.8 million shares) while Zenith Bank Plc (N5.8 billion), Nigerian Breweries Plc (N3.0 billion) and Access Bank Plc (N714.2 million) led by value.