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Op-Ed

Nigeria’s elections shift could spook the market

There could be a lull in the equities, money and forex markets

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A woman checks her name in voting lists at the State INEC Office in Jimeta - AFP

It is no longer news that The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has postponed to February 23rd, the General election earlier scheduled for Saturday, February 16th, 2019. This does not entirely come as a surprise as there had been speculations about the possible suspension of the elections due to issues relating to the distribution and collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) and the readiness of INEC.

It would have surprised many onlookers at the general calm around the Nigerian capital market, weeks and even days to the February 16th general elections. While the general volume of trade declined across markets, due to the large sense of uncertainty in the air; the general disposition wasn’t Negative towards the economy from investors. For instance, February 15th, the day which was meant to be the eve of the now postponed elections, saw the Nigerian Stock Exchange trading session end on a positive note. The All Share Index closed at 32,715.20 basis points, up 0.81%, while the year to date, the index was up 4.09%.

The analysis and predictions across investments houses across the world have been less alarmist than those running up to the 2015 general elections. As a matter of fact, the discussions have been around how much of a rally the markets would experience depending on who won the presidential elections.

This could be instructive as investors seem to have a bit more confidence in the Nigerian democratic process, which showed after the 2015 elections. In 2014/15, over a 3 month period before the election, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) lost 8.40% of its worth, only to regain 8.4% in a single day after the election. In apparent reaction to the successful conclusion of the Presidential election with the announcement of Buhari as winner by INEC, market capitalisation jumped by N903.435 billion or 8.42%. Capitalisation closed at a new high of N11.62 trillion, while the All-Share index similarly rose by 2,635 basis points or 8.30%, the most among 93 global indices tracked by Bloomberg.

The postponement however presents a new challenge, if the 2015 scenario is to replay itself, as the market hit 7 straight days of losses right after the postponement, taking the index to a two year low and into territories that had not been seen since January 2013. Arguably, the NSE-ASI had already been hit by pre-election jitters but the sell-offs after the postponement in 2015 was substantial.

In 2019, the election shift is unlikely to help market sentiments as the least to be expected, is a hold off on significant market activity.  It will raise a few concerns that might create a lull in the equities, money and forex markets. With the real reality of moving from concern to panic and even self-preservation mood which could then lead to a flight-safety stance by investors.

The performance on the Nigerian Market in recent times has no doubt shown us that the nexus between politics and the economy of a nation is so strong and interwoven to the extent that political decisions taken usually do have far reaching consequences on the economy, and no time more than an election period. 

The small respite in all of this, is that the postponement was just for a week and the presidential and National Assembly elections will now hold on February 23, 2019. Investors and stakeholders can hold their breaths, hoping that there will be no further changes; because another could lead to serious implications for the economy.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect News Central’s editorial stance.


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Op-Ed

Oil sensitivity set to intensify on conflicting themes

Oil markets are poised to remain highly sensitive and reactive to supply and demand side factors ahead of the OPEC meeting this month.

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Oil sensitivity set to intensify on conflicting themes | News Central TV

It has been a rollercoaster trading week for oil markets as investors tussled with conflicting fundamental themes pulling and tugging at the commodity.

Oil prices initially collapsed roughly 4 per cent mid-week thanks to an unexpected rise in U.S. crude stockpiles and a gloomy outlook for global oil demand. Bulls were later thrown a lifeline after geopolitical tensions in the Middle East rekindled concerns over potential supply shocks.

Oil markets are poised to remain highly sensitive and reactive to supply and demand side factors ahead of the OPEC meeting this month. With oil trading at depressed levels despite the recent rebound, OPEC+ may have no other choice but to extend supply cuts in an effort to prevent any further downside shocks.

Related: Nigeria foreign reserves rise in May; Gold Shines

For as long as Nigeria remains reliant on oil sales as a source of growth, the weakness in oil exposes the nation to significant downside risks. Should oil prices sink deeper into the abyss, Nigeria’s fragile recovery, exchange rate stability and improving sentiment will be under threat.

Looking at the technical picture, WTI Crude is trading marginally below $53.00 as of writing. Repeated weakness below this level is likely to encourage a decline towards $52.00 and $50.60.

Dollar steady ahead of retail sales 

dollar

The Dollar edged higher against a basket of major currencies today as trade tensions and global growth concerns supported the flight to safety.

While the Dollar is likely to remain supported by safe-haven flows amid persistent trade tensions, the question is for how long? With the Fed speculated to cut interest rates and recent economic data from the United States nothing to celebrate about, the Dollar is running on borrowed time.

Related: Nigeria’s week ahead: ECB meeting and Oil in focus

Much attention will be directed towards the latest U.S. retail sales figures on Friday which should offer insight into the health of the U.S. economy.

Should the report disappoint, the Dollar is likely to weaken as expectations mount over the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates this year.

Commodity spotlight – Gold 

Commodity spotlight – Gold

This has been a mixed trading week for Gold due to the growing sensitivity of global risk sentiment.

Related: Investors “Sell in May and Go Away” as risk aversion intensifies; Oil collapses

The precious metal has the potential to conclude the week on a positive note if the pending US retail sales report fails to hit market expectations. Looking at the technical picture, Gold is likely to test $1347 if $1324 proves to be a reliable support.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect News Central TV’s editorial stance.

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Op-Ed

Nigeria’s week ahead: ECB meeting and Oil in focus

The week kicks off with the US ISM Manufacturing PMI for May which is projected to hit 53.0

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Nigeria week ahead: ECB meeting and Oil in focus
(File photo)

It will be another busy week for financial markets as investors grapple with trade tensions, Brexit, depressed oil prices and concerns over slowing global growth.

The week kicks off with the US ISM Manufacturing PMI for May which is projected to hit 53.0. Appetite for the Dollar is likely to take another hit if the PMI figures fail to meet market expectations.

Investors will be paying very close attention to Fed Chair Powell’s speech on Tuesday for fresh insight into the Fed’s monetary policy path. Investors will be paying very close attention towards Powell’s tone, given how concerns are rising over trade tensions potentially impacting the US economy. 

The biggest event risks this week will be the European Central Bank meeting and US jobs report on Friday. The Dollar could end up depreciating further if the US jobs report disappoints and fuels speculation over the Fed cutting interest rates this year. Naturally, this will be good news for emerging market currencies with the Naira falling into the category.

The economic calendar for Nigeria will be relatively light this week with the Stanbic IBTC Bank PMI scheduled for release on Thursday. Although the economic docket is light, external factors in the form of trade tensions, the Dollar and most importantly oil prices will impact sentiment towards the nation.

Falling oil prices are set to place the Nigerian economy in a difficult position. It is widely known that Nigeria relies heavily on crude oil exports which account for over 90% of exports earnings and over 70% of government revenues.

A sharp decline in oil prices could threaten Nigeria’s economic recovery while disrupting exchange rate stability. The potential decline in foreign exchange reserves from lower oil is likely to weaken the Naira, consequently translating to rising inflationary pressures. Consumers and businesses will feel the pain as inflationary pressures mount, while the drop in foreign reserves may complicate the Central Bank of Nigeria’s efforts to defend the Naira.

For Nigeria to insulate itself against such external risks, there needs to be a greater push on diversifying away from oil reliance to other sustainable sources of economic growth with Agriculture being one of several solutions. Elsewhere, Gold is glittering as geopolitical risk factors and concerns over slowing global growth accelerate the flight to safety.

This precious metal has turned bullish on the daily timeframe as is positioned to push higher should $1,300 prove to be reliable support. A vulnerable Dollar should inject bulls with enough inspiration to push Gold towards $1,324 in the short to medium term.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect News Central TV’s editorial stance.

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Op-Ed

Nigeria foreign reserves rise in May; Gold Shines

Rising foreign reserves should provide the extra ammunition needed for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to defend the Naira

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Nigeria foreign reserves rise in May; Gold Shines

The Naira is set to witness further stability against the Dollar after Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves increased by $295.12m to $45.087bn in May.

Rising foreign reserves should provide the extra ammunition needed for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to defend the Naira against a tornado of domestic and external headwinds. Nevertheless, the nation still remains exposed to oil price volatility. It is widely known that Nigeria relies heavily on crude exports which account for over 90% of exports earnings and over 70% of government revenues. The fact that oil prices are sinking towards $55 today may lead to a fall in reserves in the coming months which has the potential to impact exchange rate stability, inflation, and economic growth.

Dollar blinks and loses hold on throne 

Dollar bulls were nowhere to be found today despite risk aversion accelerating the flight to safety. Market fears over Trump’s trade disputes with Mexico and China negatively impacting the US economy are weighing on the US Dollar.  While the Greenback still remains a prime destination of safety in times of uncertainty, the question is for how long? When keeping in mind how the Fed funds futures are currently pointing to a near 70% chance of a rate cut by September, the Dollar’s upside may be limited. In regards to the technical picture, the Dollar Index has the potential to sink back towards 97.50 if a weekly close below 98.00 is achieved.

Commodity spotlight – Gold 

Gold is extended gains on Friday amid news of unexpected tariffs on Mexican goods, while ongoing US-China trade tensions continued to support safe-haven demand. 

A depreciating Dollar is supporting the upside with prices trading marginally below $1300 as of writing. Market expectations over the Fed cutting interest rates in 2019 coupled with concerns over slowing global growth are likely to ensure Gold remains buoyed moving forward. Technical traders will continue to closely observe how Gold behaves below the $1300. A solid breakout above this point should signal a move higher towards $1324.

Oil set to register first monthly loss of 2019 

Oil is on track to register its first monthly loss of 2019 with WTI Crude sinking towards $55 thanks to Trump’s newly announced tariffs on Mexico and concerns over rising US gasoline stockpiles.

It is becoming increasingly clear that oil markets remain highly reactive to news around supply and demand factors. Such market dynamics will frame the upcoming OPEC meeting in June as a pivotal event that will shape Oil’s outlook for the rest of the year. Even if OPEC+ decide to extend their supply cuts into the second half of the year, this may be overshadowed by concerns over US-China trade tensions impacting the demand for oil as global grows.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect News Central’s editorial stance.

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