Investors scout for Nigeria banking stocks amidst tight trading. Banking stocks dominated trading yesterday at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) as investors continued the tit-for-tat bargain-hunting and profit-taking that usually precedes earnings season. With 19 gainers and losers each, benchmark indices at the Exchange showed average decline of 0.34 per cent, equivalent to net capital loss of N42 billion.

The momentum of activities however remained above average, driven by transactions in banking stocks. Banking stocks accounted for some three-quarters of turnover within the five-hour trading session.

Aggregate market value of all quoted equities closed at N12.617 trillion as against its opening value of N12.659 trillion. The All Share Index (ASI)-the main price index for the Nigerian stock market, declined from its opening index of 36,776.60 points to close at 36,652.82 points. The average year-to-date return dipped to 36.38 per cent.

Most sectoral indices however closed on the upside, underlining the fact that the negative overall market position was largely due to losses by highly capitalised stocks. The NSE Insurance Index appreciated by 2.4 per cent. The NSE Oil & Gas Index rose by 0.6 per cent while the NSE Industrial Goods Index inched up by 0.2 per cent. However, the NSE Consumer Goods Index dropped by 1.1 per cent while the NSE Banking Index slipped by 0.2 per cent.

Nigerian Breweries-NSE’s second most capitalised stocks, led the losers with a drop of N4.90 to close at N164. Stanbic IBTC Holdings dropped by 95 kobo to close at N40.05. United Bank for Africa declined by 16 kobo to close at N9.18. Vitafoam Nigeria lost 14 kobo to close at N2.66 while University Press and Dangote Sugar Refinery dropped by 12 kobo each to close at N2.45 and N13.65 respectively.

On the positive side, Seplat Petroleum Development Company led the gainers with a gain of N7.51 to close at N480. Nestle Nigeria rose by N2.92 to close at N1,233.12. Cement Company of Northern Nigeria added 86 kobo to close at N10.18. Guinness Nigeria rose by 75 kobo to close at N99.25 while Red Star Express appreciated by 24 kobo to close at N5.16 per share.

Total turnover stood at 336.38 million shares valued at N1.83 billion in 3,689 deals. Diamond Bank was the most active stock with a turnover of 230.56 million shares valued at N230.24 million. Skye Bank followed with 13.44 million shares worth N6.77 million. Zenith Bank recorded a turnover of 10.5 million shares valued at N265.77 million.

“As indicated by the market breadth, we expect sentiment to stay strong in the interim as investors take position ahead of the release of nine-month 2017 corporate earnings which are expected to be largely positive,” Afrinvest Securities stated.