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The year-to-date decline of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) All-Share Index worsened to 7.4 per cent yesterday as the stock market maintained a downward trend.

Prevailing weak investor appetite has continued to depress share prices for the past weeks. While the market went down by 2.89 per cent to hit a 10-momth low last week it has opened this week on another bearish note, shedding 0.13 per cent.

Specifically, the NSE ASI closed lower at 35,399.28, while market capitalisation shed N17 billion to end at N12.9 trillion. The bears were in total control as 26 stocks lost value compared with only 14 that added value.

Although highly capitalised counters such as United Bank for Africa Plc, Guinness Nigeria Plc, GTBank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc, were largely responsible for negative performance of the market, Mutual Benefits Assurance Plc led the gainers with 9.1 per cent apiece.

The insurance firm currently commenced shopping for N2 billion through a Rights Issue of 4.0 billion shares of 50 kobo each to existing shareholders at 50 kobo per share. The company wants to use the funds -strengthen its capital base, deepen capacity to underwrite risks, upgrade its information technology and enhance its working capital.

Livestock Feeds Plc, Wema Bank Plc and NSL Technology shed 8.7 per cent, 7.3 per cent, 6.9 per cent and 6.9 per cent respectively.

On the positive side, Eterna Plc led the price gainers with 9.9 per cent, trailed by UAC of Nigeria Plc with 7.6 per cent. Courtville Business Solutions Plc and Caverton Offshore gained 5.0 per cent and 4.7 per cent respectively.

International Breweries Plc and Double One Plc garnered 4.5 per centand 2.2 per cent in that order.

According to market analysts, the mood in the Nigerian equities market is still downbeat as weak investor appetite still characterize the market.

“We noticed that most of the counters across all sectors, especially heavyweight counters, are trading at their year low prices. Therefore, we expect bargain hunting activities to resume in the coming days, driving the market’s performance up,” they said.

Meanwhile, the NSE Banking Index emerged the biggest loser in the trading session, shedding 0.8 per cent. It was trailed by the NSE Insurance Index and NSE Oil & Gas Index that went down by 0.5 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively.

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