Nigeria stocks, bonds, Yields rise after presidential election as observers say polls generally peaceful

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    The electoral body has started to count votes in the closely-fought election that pitted President Muhammadu Buhari against businessman Atiku Abubakar but it is unclear when the winner will be declared.

    Stocks rose 0.43 percent to 32,655 points while a rise in bond prices was more pronounced in longer-dated, local currency bonds such as the 2028 issue. Yields on the 10-year paper fell to 14.5 percent on Monday from a previous close of 14.68 percent.

    No major trades occurred on the naira currency on Monday, traders said, as investors await the result of the vote. But on the forward market, the naira firmed to 396 per dollar, up from 401 posted a week ago.

    “Barring any negative surprises at the polls, we anticipate a positive start to this week’s trading as investors price in improved certainty upon conclusion of the general elections,” analysts at Vetiva capital wrote in a note.

    The election had been scheduled to take place on Feb. 16 but, just hours before it was due to begin, the electoral body postponed it by a week, citing problems in delivering ballot papers and results sheets to some parts of the country.

    The head of the African Union observer mission said on Monday that the election had taken place in a generally peaceful environment. But the U.S. observer mission said the week-long delay had damaged public confidence in the process and probably reduced voter turnout.

    Nigeria’s dollar-denominated eurobonds shuffled higher as investors waited on the first flurry of regional results. Longer-dated bonds with maturities as far off as 2049 climbed almost 0.5 cents in the dollar and having risen for the last five days running, they had more than made up for the losses suffered a week ago when the election was postponed.

    “The market opened on a constructive note … as evidenced by a receiving bias in USD/NGN forwards, supportive local bond performance and moderate gains in Eurobonds,” said Samir Gadio, head of Africa strategy at Standard Chartered Bank.

    “The risk-on global backdrop, higher oil prices and prospects of larger portfolio inflows after the election are probably driving this positive market performance.”

    Observers Peaceful election

    Meanwhile Nigeria’s election took place in a generally peaceful environment, the head of the African Union observer mission said on Monday, in his first public comments about the delayed presidential poll on Saturday.

    Analysts say the presidential election pitting President Muhammadu Buhari against businessman and former vice president Atiku Abubakar will be Nigeria’s tightest since the end of military rule in 1999.

    At stake is the leadership of Africa’s top oil producer, a country with the continent’s biggest economy whose decade-long battle with Islamist militants concentrated in the northeast makes it central to regional stability.

    Early results were expected to trickle in on Monday, but it was unclear when a winner would be declared.

    A credible and relatively calm poll would open a new chapter in the chequered political history of Nigeria, where nearly six decades of independence have been tarnished by military coups, endemic corruption and secessionist movements.

    “The 2019 elections took place in a generally peaceful environment,” said AU observer mission head Hailemariam Desalegn, the former prime minister of Ethiopia.

    As many as 39 people have been killed in election violence, civil society groups said on Sunday.

    The Situation Room – which represents more than 70 civil society groups – reported 39 deaths after Saturday’s vote.

    In previous elections, the death toll has been higher, but most unrest typically occurs after results are announced.

    “Since beginning of campaigns in Oct 2018, more than 260 politically motivated deaths,” Clement Nwankwo, convener of the Situation Room, which had 9,000 observers, told reporters.

    Repoorting by Alexis Akwagyiram and Paul Carsten; Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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