Hopes that Coronavirus would be contained in China have vanished as the first case in Nigeria was announced late last week, thereby pounding the stock market amid fears of global recession.
Indeed, the Ministry of Health in Lagos State on Friday confirmed its first case of the novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which incidentally is the first in Nigeria and West Africa since the outbreak in China.
This was contained in a statement released on Friday morning by the state Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi.
The virus is fast spreading globally, having been reported in over 20 countries across Asia, the Middle East, Europe and lately in Africa.
Like the case confirmed in Algeria, the victim, an Italian traveller, arrived in Nigeria on Tuesday from Milan on a business trip.
According to reports, the victim whose name was not identified used the Murtala Muhammad International Airport in Lagos and is currently being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.
In a swift response to the development, the Federal Government through the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, assured Nigerians that there was no need to panic.
Mohammed who gave the assurance in Abuja said that the government is well equipped to detect and handle any possible case or cases.
Corroborating what the minister said, Head of Nigeria’s National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu, said that the country is more than capable of dealing with the Coronavirus disease.
“We successfully managed Ebola and we manage outbreaks all the time and are currently managing Lassa Fever. We have a strong team that is used to doing this,” he assured.
However, proceedings on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) continued its loss-making trend, sending the market’s Year-to-Date (YtD) return into the negative territory by -0.6 per cent with investors scampering for safety in other instruments.
Consequently, the All Share Index (ASI) dipped by 2.21 per cent to close Friday’s session at 26,216.46 points while market capitalisation returned to N13 trillion mark.
Monday’s session saw the ASI declining by 1.27 per cent to 27,041.03 points – the largest one-day decline since falling by 1.55 per cent on December 23, 2019 as market players sold off banking tickers, amidst expectations of increasing regulatory headwinds, following news surrounding recent statements attributed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at the Banker’s Committee meeting last week.
The bears won again as the index lost 0.03 per cent to 27,033.10 points following sell pressures in Nigerian Breweries, GT Bank and Zenith Bank on Tuesday.
Accordingly, market capitalisation fell N4 billion to N14.083 trillion while YtD return remained at 0.7 per cent.
Sell-offs in MTNN, ETI and Sterling Bank dragged the index 0.22 per cent down to 26,974.38 points, resulting to a slowdown in YtD return to 0.5 per cent while market capitalisation fell by N31 billion to close at N14.052 trillion at the close of Wednesday’s session.
The ASI dipped by 0.62 per cent to close Thursday’s session at 26,808.24 points while market capitalisation returned to N13 trillion mark as investors lost N87 billion.
Hence, investors have now lost N611 billion in five trading sessions.
On the price chart, investors’ sentiment remained negative as 41 stocks depreciated in value while two others appreciated.
Cadbury led the laggards with 10 per cent to close at N8.10 per share, ETI followed with 10 per cent to close at N5.40, NEM dropped N10 per cent to close at N1.80, Nigerian Breweries lost 10 per cent to close at N40.50 while Oando declined by 10 per cent to close at N2.70.
On the flipside, Vitafoam topped the gainers’ chart with 5.88 per cent to close at N4.32 per share while Flourmill garnered 4.76 per cent to close at N22.
Reacting to the development, Chief Executive Officer, Crane Securities Limited, Mike Eze, believes that the impact might likely hit the market as Nigeria is not adequately prepared due to its weak macroeconomic state.
“We are hoping that the vaccine would come in time so that this tension can die down as it is not good for an emerging market like ours.”
Cordros Capital on their part said: “In the likelihood of the situation in the market, as well as the virus, investors should seek flight in fundamental stocks as opportunities still remain in terms of bargain hunting.”