Foreign Investors Exit Leaves Nigerian Stocks At Three Year Low

Avatar
Written by Kevin Mwanza

Nigeria’s main stock index fell to a three-year low dragged down by foreign investors exiting the Africa’s largest economy on what analysts said were slow and unclear policies by the new government.

According to Bloomberg, the Nigerian Stock Exchange All Share Index dropped 6.2 percent in November even after President Muhammadu Buhari constituted a long awaited government ministers cabinet.

Reuters reported that the bourse, which posted one of the worst performance in 2014, shed 6.5 percent in October.

Pabina Yinkere, an analyst at Lagos-based Vetiva Capital Management, told Bloomberg that the Buhari led government had “not come up with a definitive policy for the economy” and the “lack of clarity” was hurting the stock market.

A poor outlook on the West African nation’s economy after oil prices, its main export commodity that accounts for over 70 percent of the country’s annual revenue, tumbled on the international market.

A series of other restrictive regulatory measures on the foreign exchange market, aimed at propping up the Naira by the Central Bank of Nigeria have made it difficult for investors to freely trade in the country’s assets.

This led to the ejection of Nigeria from the JP Morgan emerging markets government bond index and downgrades by global rating agencies Fitch and Standards & Poor’s.

“The role foreign investors play in the Nigerian equity market cannot be ignored … hence the need for the central bank and government to review their stance on forex policies,” Ayodeji Ebo, head of research at Afrinvest, told Reuters.

The Naira has depreciated more than 20 percent so far this year and could close the year even lower if the US Fed decide to hike interest rate in December, something that will make investors rush out of riskier frontier and emerging markets assets like Nigeria’s.

The Nigerian bourse has failed to react favorably to a recent surprise interest rate cut by the central bank aimed at stimulating the economy.

“The surprise reduction in rates has probably worried international investors even more,” David McIlroy, chief investment officer at Specialist African fund Alquity Investment Management, told Bloomberg.

“Given the inflation rate is above the central bank’s target, there’s pressure on the currency and they need to attract foreign capital, you’d expect interest rates to be rising.”