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EU ban: A slap on Nigeria’s foods standardisation

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That the European Union (EU) rejected 24 exported food products from Nigeria in 2016 over failure to meet standards has, again, shown the lackadaisical attitude of government’s agencies towards food standardisation. TAIWO HASSAN writes

At a period the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari is aggressively investing in Nigeria’s non-oil sector to resuscitate the ailing economy, which was grossly impaired by the slump in crude oil price at the international market since 2015, it is unfortunate that the country is yet to get it right in the agricultural export market.
Without mincing words, the present administration has openly demonstrated its commitment towards agriculture upliftment as the next ‘big thing’ in the country. Particularly, agriculture is tailored to take the country’s economy to the next level as part of the Buhari-led government’s efforts to focus on non-oil sector for Nigeria’s growth.
Consequently, the role of the non-oil export market cannot be overemphasised in the Nigerian economy, as it is in tandem with the present administration’s diversification agenda to generate foreign exchange revenue to boost the ailing economy.
Unfortunately, government’s standardisation agencies ignored the packaging aspect of Nigeria’s food produce, which is is one of the key areas needed to be considered when exporting agricultural produce abroad for international acceptance.
EU’s first ban
Indeed, President Buhari had identified the agric sector as one of the key areas slated for turning around of the country’s economic fortunes, in line with his administration’s change mantra- diversification policy agenda.
Arguably, the President had also urged farmers and Nigerians to key into agriculture because of the endowed opportunities to tap in towards the development of the country’s agric sector and ensure national food security and food exports in Nigeria.
Just as the administration was at an advanced stage planning to execute its policy thrust for agricultural development in the country, there came unexpected news in June 2015 that the European Union (EU) had suspended some agricultural food exports from Nigeria over their inability to meet international specifications.
Ban on agric products
Some of the food produce banned by the EU from entering Europe after carrying out some diligent tests to discover that they contained high concentration of pesticide included beans, sesame seeds, melon seeds, dried fish and meat, peanut chips and palm oil.
Particularly, the European Food Safety Authority noted that the rejected beans contained between 0.03mg per kilogramme to 4.6mg/kg of dichlorvos pesticide, when the acceptable maximum residue limit is 0.01mg/kg.
NEPC mandate
Consequently, the Federal Government swung into action by summoning various agric-related agencies to fashion out strategies that would not only see that the ban is lifted, but also ensure that Nigeria’s produce are globally accepted beyond the EU.
The Federal Government had constituted an inter-agency committee with the objective of achieving zero rejection of the country’s non-oil export products and improve revenue earnings for the Federal Government.
During the inauguration of the technical committee in Abuja, the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) mandated the committee to ensure that the country’s image at the international scene was revitalised for the good of Nigerians and the present administration.
Executive Secretary, NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo, while inaugurating the technical committee in Abuja, said it would ensure a consistent long-term effort on ensuring zero rejects of Nigeria’s products in EU markets and other parts of the world.
Awolowo said that the government was committed to ensuring that Nigerian agricultural produce was internationally recognised, adding that it now beholds on the committee to come out with a blueprint for the agric sector, which will finally nail in the bud Nigerian food items rejection at the international markets.
FG’s inter-agency committee
The inaugurated committee comprised of Trade Information, Export Procedures and Documentation, and Capacity Building, Quality Standards and Compliance. They were tasked to recommend ways to tackle the issue of rejects associated with Nigeria’s produce.
While members of the committees were drawn from government agencies such as the NEPC, Ministry of Trade and Investment, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Nigeria Custom Service, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC).
NAFDAC’s announcement
Just as agric stakeholders and Nigerians were itching and waiting endlessly to see the EU’s reversal of Nigeria’s agric produce ban, NAFDAC dropped another bombshell – that the European Union (EU) had rejected 24 exported food products from Nigeria in 2016 for failing to meet standards.
The NAFDAC spokesperson, Dr Abubakar Jimoh made the disclosure while speaking on the latest EU rejection of Nigeria’s agric produce in Abuja last week.
He said the five major products are groundnut, palm oil, sesame seed and beans that were illegally exported to the EU.
He noted that from the information made available to NAFDAC, groundnut was rejected because it contained aflatoxin, which made the quality substandard.
Jimoh said: “The exported palm oil did not scale through the EU’s test because it also contained a colouring agent that was carcinogenic.
“Beans was banned by EU sometime ago but it was illegally exported to European countries.
“Beans was initially banned for one year, when EU was not satisfied with our exported beans in terms of quality assurance, it extended the ban by another two years, which expires next year.
“NAFDAC and other regulatory agencies of the government are working round the clock to ensure that when the ban is lifted, we can then begin to export more agricultural products to EU,” Jimoh, who is also the NAFDAC Director Special Duties, said.
He said most of the products that were smuggled out were not certified by the agency and the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services at the ports.
Last line
The latest EU’s rejection of Nigeria’s agricultural products has shown the ineffectiveness of NEPC and its inter agency committee in taming the growing rejection of Nigeria’s food produce globally, which is also dwindling the country’s foreign exchange fortunes.

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Aviation

S’African airline cash injection imminent, says it needs more

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S’African airline cash injection imminent, says it needs more

South Africa’s cash-strapped national airline SAA says a government cash injection of 5.5 billion rand ($376 million)approved for the 2019/20 financial year is expected at the end of the month but it still needs more money, a presentation to lawmakers showed on Wednesday.

South African Airways (SAA) has debt of about 12.7 billion rand, consisting of 9.2 billion rand of legacy debt and a 3.5 billion rand working capital facility provided by banks, reports Reuters.

“SAA requires 2 billion rand to fund working capital in FY 2019/20 by December 2019,” the presentation said.

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Aviation

S’African airline cash injection imminent, says it needs more

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S’African airline cash injection imminent, says it needs more

South Africa’s cash-strapped national airline SAA says a government cash injection of 5.5 billion rand ($376 million)approved for the 2019/20 financial year is expected at the end of the month but it still needs more money, a presentation to lawmakers showed on Wednesday.

South African Airways (SAA) has debt of about 12.7 billion rand, consisting of 9.2 billion rand of legacy debt and a 3.5 billion rand working capital facility provided by banks, reports Reuters.

“SAA requires 2 billion rand to fund working capital in FY 2019/20 by December 2019,” the presentation said.

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Aviation

Ethiopian crash victims want 737 MAX documents from Boeing, FAA

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Ethiopian crash victims want 737 MAX documents from Boeing, FAA

A lawyer for victims of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 said on Tuesday he wants Boeing Co and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to hand over documents about the decision to keep the Boeing 737 MAX in the air after a deadly Lion Air crash last October.

A week after Lion Air Flight 610 nose-dived into the Java Sea, killing all 189 aboard, the FAA warned airlines that erroneous inputs from an automated flight control system’s sensors could lead the jet to automatically pitch its nose down, but the agency allowed the jets to continue flying.

Five months later, the same system was blamed for playing a role when ET302 crashed on March 10, killing all 157 passengers and crew and prompting a worldwide grounding of the 737 MAX that remains in place.

“The decisions to keep those planes in service are key,” Robert Clifford of Clifford Law Offices, which represents families of the Ethiopian crash victims, said at a status hearing before U.S. Judge Jorge Alonso in Chicago.

Nearly 100 lawsuits have been filed against Boeing by at least a dozen law firms representing families of the Ethiopian Airlines crash victims, who came from 35 different countries, including nine U.S. citizens and 19 Canadians.

Families of about 60 victims have yet to file lawsuits but plaintiffs’ lawyers said they anticipate more to come. Most of the lawsuits do not make a specific dollar claim, though Ribbeck Law Chartered has said its clients are seeking more than $1 billion.

The lawsuits assert that Boeing defectively designed the automated flight control system. The system is believed to have repeatedly forced the nose lower in both accidents.

Boeing declined to comment on the lawsuit directly but said it is cooperating fully with the investigating authorities. The manufacturer has apologized for the lives lost in both crashes and is upgrading software. But it has stopped short of admitting any fault in how it developed the 737 MAX, or the software.

The FAA said it does not comment on litigation. The agency has defended its decision not to ground the 737 MAX sooner and has said it is following a thorough process for returning the jet to passenger service.

Clifford, who was appointed lead counsel on Tuesday to represent the majority of plaintiffs suing Boeing over the Ethiopian Airlines crash, said he would pursue two tracks in the case: one for clients who wish to settle with Boeing and another for those who want to push for discovery.

In his role as lead counsel, Clifford will help the different plaintiffs “speak with one voice,” said Ricardo Martinez-Cid of Podhurst Orseck, a law firm that is also representing Ethiopian Airlines crash victims.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers who represent victims of airline crashes generally work for free and receive a percentage of the settlement or award.

Amos Mbicha, who lost his sister and her son in the crash of ET302 which occurred soon after it departed Addis Ababa for Nairobi, said some Kenyan families had not sued yet because they had difficulty choosing between the many law firms seeking to represent victims, reports Reuters.

“You look at the brochures, it all looks like everyone worked on the same cases,” he said. “It’s confusing for people.”

Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against Boeing by families of Lion Air crash victims, who were almost all from Indonesia. Those cases are already in mediation and are not expected to be consolidated with Ethiopian Airlines.

“While the cases share some common issues there are big differences, most importantly the critical evidence of what Boeing did and did not do between October and March,” said Justin Green, a lawyer from Kreindler & Kreindler, who was appointed co-chair of the plaintiffs’ committee on Tuesday.

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Aviation

Bees delay flight for over two hours

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Bees delay flight for over two hours

Bad weather. A technical fault. A late-arriving aircraft. Just some of the reasons your flight might be delayed.

One to add to the list: a swarm of bees.

On Sunday morning, Air India flight 743 from Kolkata to Agartala was delayed by two and a half hours after a swarm of honeybees clamped themselves onto the window of the flight deck.

The swarm took up residence on the left hand window panes, obstructing the pilots’ vision.

Windscreen wipers failed to remove the bees. The swarm was only cleared when the airport fire crew was recruited to use water cannons.

The plane had already been delayed 90 minutes due to a technical fault, before the bee attack added an extra hour’s delay.

The flight to Agartala, in northeast India, takes just 60 minutes.

“The plane left the parking bay at its scheduled departure time, then there was a technical issue and it had to return back to the parking bay,” Kolkata airport director Kaushik Bhattacharjee told CNN. “There was a delay of 1.5 hours due to the ground staff attending to the technical fault.

“After that, there was a bee attack. A swarm of honeybees came and landed on one section of the cockpit glass. Thousands of bees just sat on the left side of the cockpit window blocking the view of the pilot.

“The pilot tried to remove the bees by using windscreen wipers but it didn’t work.

“Airline staff informed the airport authorities and we deployed a fire tender from the fire station located inside the airport. Using a water cannon, they dispersed the bees.”

The plane took off two and a half hours behind schedule. There were 136 passengers on board, including Bangladeshi politician Hasan Mahmud, the country’s Minister for Information.

Kolkata airport — Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International — is one of India’s busiest, processing 21.8 million passengers a year, with 40 million predicted by 2021.

It is known as one of the country’s most modern airports, using solar panels to generate energy.

Bhattacharjee told CNN that airport staff had carried out checks for bees in the wake of the incident.

“We did not find any beehives on any structures inside the airport,” he said. “They came from outside the airport premises.”

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Energy

Investors turn heat on Big Oil ahead of UN climate summit

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Investors turn heat on Big Oil ahead of UN climate summit

Investors managing $15 trillion in assets turned up the heat on oil and gas sector on Wednesday ahead of a United Nations summit in New York aimed at accelerating efforts to fight climate change.

Energy companies are on the front line of the global transition to a low-carbon economy, with investors potentially on the hook for hefty losses if the companies do not overhaul their business models in time.

In its most detailed analysis of the energy sector, the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) said 31 out of 109 energy firms were aligned with commitments governments have so far made under the 2015 Paris Agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

However, of the 50 oil and gas companies assessed, just two – Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc – were aligned with existing national emissions targets. The remaining 29 companies on track to meet such commitments were all electric utilities.

“We, as a major institutional investor, are concerned that transition risk – the large and growing gap between government targets and company ambitions – is a major source of investment risk,” said Helena Viñes Fiestas, global head of stewardship and policy at BNP Paribas Asset Management.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wants governments to make more ambitious pledges to cut emissions at the U.N. summit on Monday, which he convened to boost the Paris Agreement ahead of a crucial implementation phase next year.

Current pledges by governments to cut emissions are nowhere near enough to meet the Paris target of keeping the rise in average global temperatures to well below two degrees Celsius, with a goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

That means that some companies’ targets can bring them in line with existing national plans under the Paris Agreement, but remain far from adequate to avert the worst of the natural disasters and economic damage forecast for a warming world.

TPI, which includes major pension funds and asset owners, said none of the oil and gas companies it assessed are doing enough to align their businesses with the changes needed to meet the Paris temperature targets.

The findings echoed a report published this month by financial think-tank Carbon Tracker, which found that big oil companies had approved $50 billion of projects since last year that will not be viable if governments implement the Paris deal.

By contrast, TPI found that nearly half of the utility companies are aligned with national commitments already made under the Paris Agreement, and more than 20% are on target to meet a temperature rise of below 2 degrees Celsius, the TPI said.

That is partly because some utilities have been quicker to pivot their business models toward renewable energy than oil and gas companies, reports Reuters.

“There is no doubt that oil and gas companies are in a difficult position in navigating the transition to a low carbon economy,” Euan Stirling, global head of stewardship and ESG investing at Aberdeen Standard Investments.

“That makes it all the more important that we have at least some sector constituents who are starting to respond to the climate crisis by repositioning their businesses from the top down in the same way that many power generators have.”

The TPI is one of several investor initiatives launched in recent years aimed at helping boost the quality and effectiveness of investor engagement with companies on climate. Among its other 45 signatories are firms including Legal & General Investment Management and U.S. pension scheme CaLPERs.

“We believe that investors should use their voice to hold top management of investee companies accountable for incorporating climate-related issues in their corporate strategy,” Carola van Lamoen, head of active ownership at Dutch asset manager Robeco.

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Energy

Investors turn heat on Big Oil ahead of UN climate summit

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Investors turn heat on Big Oil ahead of UN climate summit

Investors managing $15 trillion in assets turned up the heat on oil and gas sector on Wednesday ahead of a United Nations summit in New York aimed at accelerating efforts to fight climate change.

Energy companies are on the front line of the global transition to a low-carbon economy, with investors potentially on the hook for hefty losses if the companies do not overhaul their business models in time.

In its most detailed analysis of the energy sector, the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) said 31 out of 109 energy firms were aligned with commitments governments have so far made under the 2015 Paris Agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

However, of the 50 oil and gas companies assessed, just two – Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc – were aligned with existing national emissions targets. The remaining 29 companies on track to meet such commitments were all electric utilities.

“We, as a major institutional investor, are concerned that transition risk – the large and growing gap between government targets and company ambitions – is a major source of investment risk,” said Helena Viñes Fiestas, global head of stewardship and policy at BNP Paribas Asset Management.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wants governments to make more ambitious pledges to cut emissions at the U.N. summit on Monday, which he convened to boost the Paris Agreement ahead of a crucial implementation phase next year.

Current pledges by governments to cut emissions are nowhere near enough to meet the Paris target of keeping the rise in average global temperatures to well below two degrees Celsius, with a goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

That means that some companies’ targets can bring them in line with existing national plans under the Paris Agreement, but remain far from adequate to avert the worst of the natural disasters and economic damage forecast for a warming world.

TPI, which includes major pension funds and asset owners, said none of the oil and gas companies it assessed are doing enough to align their businesses with the changes needed to meet the Paris temperature targets.

The findings echoed a report published this month by financial think-tank Carbon Tracker, which found that big oil companies had approved $50 billion of projects since last year that will not be viable if governments implement the Paris deal.

By contrast, TPI found that nearly half of the utility companies are aligned with national commitments already made under the Paris Agreement, and more than 20% are on target to meet a temperature rise of below 2 degrees Celsius, the TPI said.

That is partly because some utilities have been quicker to pivot their business models toward renewable energy than oil and gas companies, reports Reuters.

“There is no doubt that oil and gas companies are in a difficult position in navigating the transition to a low carbon economy,” Euan Stirling, global head of stewardship and ESG investing at Aberdeen Standard Investments.

“That makes it all the more important that we have at least some sector constituents who are starting to respond to the climate crisis by repositioning their businesses from the top down in the same way that many power generators have.”

The TPI is one of several investor initiatives launched in recent years aimed at helping boost the quality and effectiveness of investor engagement with companies on climate. Among its other 45 signatories are firms including Legal & General Investment Management and U.S. pension scheme CaLPERs.

“We believe that investors should use their voice to hold top management of investee companies accountable for incorporating climate-related issues in their corporate strategy,” Carola van Lamoen, head of active ownership at Dutch asset manager Robeco.

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Aviation

Plane makes emergency return to airport after engine fire reported

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Plane makes emergency return to airport after engine fire reported

Officials say an Air China jet bound for Beijing has made an emergency return to Dulles International Airport after reporting an engine fire.

In a statement, the Federal Aviation Administration says that the Air China flight landed safely Tuesday in Washington after reporting an engine fire and that its pilot was in contact with air traffic control at all times.

The FAA says Air China Flight 818 departed Dulles at 4:39 p.m. EDT and returned at 5:54 p.m.

A spokesman for the Washington Metropolitan Airport Authority identified the craft as a Boeing 777, which the aircraft maker says seats from 317 to 396 people, reports The Associated Press.

A spokeswoman with Air China didn’t immediately respond to requests for additional information.

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Business

Zenith emerges 2nd most credible lender in Ghana

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Zenith emerges 2nd most credible lender in Ghana

Z

enith Bank, Ghana, is the second most credible bank in Ghana, according to Credmap Technology Ghana Banking Credibility Index (GBCI).

 

 

According to the firm, the inaugural “credibility-rating” engine is capable of combining crowd-rating and data mining to generate “credibility scores” of individuals and institutions using pooled data about their track record, history, commentary, biography, popular sentiment and reputation.

 

 

The assessment, which covered the 2018 financial year, saw Standard Chartered, Zenith Bank Ghana, Ecobank Ghana, UBA Ghana and Barclays Bank placing 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th respectively.

 

 

The other banks are: Societe Generale (6th), Stanbic Ghana (7th), Fidelity Ghana (8th), Access Ghana (9th) and GCB Bank (10th).

 

 

All 30 of Ghana’s tier-one/universal banks were benchmarked against Credmap’s measures, compared to each other, and then ranked in what became the GBCI, a process that was overseen by a team of senior technical analysts at Konfidants, a management consulting company based in Accra, Johannesburg and Geneva.

 

 

Some major criteria in the computation of the GBCI included executive track record of the board and management membership, educational qualifications of board members and senior management personnel and the emphasis on continuous professional development with the studied banks.

 

 

Others were reputational factors, degree of board independence from shareholder and management control and influence and consistency and accuracy in board management communications as ascertained from comments in the media, advertising, and publications, including official documentation and reports.

 

 

In this inaugural index, the primary focus was on the quality of bank boards and senior management personnel.

 

The Konfidants team believed that in the wake of recent developments in the banking sector, corporate governance and management competence have emerged, by far, as the most critical factors in determining bank performance and success.

 

 

The analysts were able to more rapidly double-check how traditional benchmarks, such as net interest margin, capital adequacy, asset quality, return on equity and return on assets, conceal or reveal the most salient factors in banking governance and reputation.

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Business

Wall Street subdued as focus shifts to Fed meeting

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Wall Street subdued as focus shifts to Fed meeting

U.S. stocks were little changed on Tuesday as investors moved to the sidelines ahead of the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting, while the impact of weekend attacks on Saudi Arabia’s biggest oil refinery faded.

 

Equity markets took a hit on Monday as the attacks wiped out half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production, sending oil prices soaring, while fuelling geopolitical tensions. But President Donald Trump’s statement that he does not want war and a Reuters report that Saudi Arabia was close to restoring 70% of the oil production lost calmed investor nerves.

 

According to Reuters News, the benchmark S&P 500 index .SPX recovered early losses to rise slightly, with the so-called defensive consumer staples .SPLRCS, utilities .SPLRCU and real estate .SPLRCR sectors posting the biggest gains.

 

The energy index .SPNY tracked a drop in oil prices, after recording its best one-day surge since January on Monday. The U.S. central bank concludes its policy meeting on Wednesday, with traders currently expecting a 63.5 per cent chance of a quarter percentage point cut from the Fed this week, down from 88.8 per cent on Friday, according to CME’s FedWatch.

 

“It’s just typical trading on the vigil of a Fed meeting,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York. “We haven’t seen any panic from what happened over the weekend. I think (the Fed) will stick with a quarter of a percentage point cut even after the Saudi attack.”

 

Banks .SPXBK, which tend to underperform in a lower interest rate environment, fell 0.95 per cent and were the biggest drag on the S&P 500. Since the last interest rate cut in July, U.S. economic data has shown mixed signals about the domestic economy. While strong retail sales and wage growth have bolstered consumer confidence, a protracted U.S.- China trade war has weighed on manufacturing and business sentiment.

 

Latest data showed U.S. manufacturing output increased more than expected in August, rebounding from a drop in July, while homebuilders’ optimism grew unexpectedly brighter in September. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 22.68 points, or 0.08 per cent, at 27,054.14, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 1.95 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 2,999.91.

 

The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 6.66 points, or 0.08 per cent, at 8,160.21. Among stocks, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (CMG.N) rose 3.3 per cent as it added a new steak dish to its menu in the United States for the first time in three years.

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Business

NSE extends decline by N80bn

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NSE extends decline by N80bn

LOW CONFIDENCE

Airtel Africa Plc led losers with a drop of 10 per cent to close at N283.50 per share

 

Trading activities on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange yesterday witnessed another drop in share prices as bears sustained grip on the local bourse following the sell-off that has pervaded the stock market. The local bourse recorded 22 gainers against 15 losers.

 

Consequently, the All-Share Index dipped 67.55 basis points or 0.6 per cent to close at 27,407.04 index points as against 27.574.32 recorded the previous day while market capitalisation of equities depreciated by N80 billion from N13.421 trillion the previous day to N13.341 trillion as market sentiment remained on the negative territory. Meanwhile, a turnover of198 million shares exchanged in 3,830 deals was recorded in the day’s trading.

 

The premium sub-sector was the most active (measured by turnover volume); with 105.2 million shares exchanged by investors in 1,539 deals. Volume in the sub-sector was largely driven by activities in the shares of Access Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc.

 

 

Also, the banking sub-sector, boosted by activities in the shares of Sterling Bank Plc and Ecobank Plc, followed with a turnover of 30.3 million shares in 535 deals. Further analysis of the day’s trading showed that in percentage terms, NEM Insurance Plc topped the day’s gainers’ table with 9.74 per cent to close at N2.14 per share while Livestock Feeds Nigeria Plc followed with 9.52 per cent to close at 46 kobo per share. PZ Cussons Plc added 9.32 per cent to close at N6.45 per share.

 

On the flip side, Airtel Africa Plc led the losers with a drop of 10 per cent to close at N283.50 per share while UACProperty Plc shed 9.55 per cent to close at N1.42 per share. NCR Plc trailed with 9.09 per cent to close at N4.50 per share.

 

 

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