Kenyan Shilling, Stocks Gain as Presidential Vote Result Nears

Kenyan shares surged to a record and the shilling gained against the dollar for a second day as investors bet the outcome of a March 4 presidential election will be peaceful.

The Nairobi Securities Exchange’s All Share Index (NSEASI) advanced for an eighth day after gaining 5.1 percent since Feb. 26 to 110.30 at yesterday’s close, the highest level since at least June 2009. The shilling climbed 0.3 percent to trade at 85.98 per dollar by 10:34 a.m. in the capital, Nairobi.

“It is looking peaceful and the market is hoping that in case anyone has an issue they will take it to court and not to the streets.” Julius Kiriinya, a trader at Nairobi-based African Banking Corp., said by phone. “On that basis the shillings should strengthen.”

Results from the presidential vote, the first since a disputed election five years ago triggered violence that killed more than 1,100 people, may be announced today, according to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, facing charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court, is leading with 49.6 percent of total ballots counted in 213 out of 290 constituencies. His opponent, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, has 43.3 percent. To win, they need more than 50 percent.

The Nairobi bourse’s All Share index is sub-Saharan Africa’s second-best performer this year, after Ghana.

“The stock market is looking through the near-term political noise and is taking comfort from the large voter turnout we saw and the fact that the events that happened in 2007-08 are not repeatable,” Aly-Khan Satchu, chief executive officer of Nairobi-based investment company Rich Management Ltd., said by phone. “The stock market will prefer a clear winner in the first round and I think the ICC issue is overblown.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Ombok in Nairobi at eombok@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson in Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

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