Foreign investors troop back to NSE

NSE Chief Executive Geoffrey Odundo. [File]

Foreign investors rallied back to the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) with yesterday’s turnover increasing by a record 538 per cent on the back of improved investor confidence.

A statement from the NSE showed that shares worth Sh3.76 billion were moved compared to Sh550 million that was recorded in the previous trading session.

The number of shares traded increased to 123.6 million, more than five-fold from 17 million traded on Wednesday.

“The positive performance has been driven by growing foreign investors’ demand for listed equities in the Kenyan market,” said NSE in the statement.

By the end of trading, the value of shares bought by foreign investors was worth Sh3.4 billion, a more than five-fold increase from the value traded the previous day.

Activities at the Nairobi bourse have been picking up since March 13 when trading was suspended after jittery investors evacuated from the local stock - with most fearing that the country’s health system would be overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, six months later, and with 36,576 Covid-19 cases and 642 deaths, most of the foreign investors have been coming back.

“Today’s performance is a testament of improving investor sentiments as listed securities in our market continue to show impressive recovery,” said NSE Chief Executive Geoffrey Odundo.

Except for the dusk-to-dawn curfew and closure of bars and nightclubs, most of the restrictive measures aimed at curbing the spread of the pandemic have been eased.

Most forecasters have also revised their economic growth projections, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) now projecting that Kenya’s economy will grow at one per cent from the initial -0.3 per cent.

The National Treasury expects the economy to grow at 2.6 per cent this year, before recovering to 5.3 per cent in 2021 and 5.9 per cent in the medium term.

A number of leading economic indicators such as exports, electricity sales and mobile payments have shown significant improvement compared to April when most were at dismally low levels.

Activities at the NSE, another barometer for economic performance, have mirrored this positive performance.

As expected, the counters with the most activities were those of telecommunications provider Safaricom, East Africa’s most profitable company, where virtually all the trading - 92.33 per cent - took place.  

About 115 million of the telco’s shares valued at Sh3.4 billion changed hands at between Sh29.50 and Sh30.15. 

In the banking sector, Equity Bank and KCB were the most active counters.

“The impressive performance comes on the back of improving performance in the equities market evidenced by an 11.3 per cent growth in equities turnover,” said NSE.