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Nigerian Banks Lead Stock Index to 6th Day of Gains on Dividends

Banks led Nigeria’s benchmark stock index for a sixth day of gains, the longest winning streak in more than eight months, as investors bet companies will pay good dividends this year, Mega Equities Limited said.

The Nigerian Stock Exchange All-Share Index gained 0.4 percent to 20,689.52 by the 12:30 p.m. close in Lagos, reducing its loss for the year to 16 percent. Trading ended two hours earlier today because of the Christmas holiday.

“The rise has to do with year-end valuations as people take positions for likely dividend payments early in the new year,” Samuel Onukwue, managing director of Lagos-based Mega Equities, said by phone today.

United Bank for Africa Plc, a lender with operations in 19 African countries, soared by the maximum daily limit of 5 percent to 2.73 naira, the highest in almost nine months. Sterling Bank Plc, who bought privately-held Equitorial Trust Bank Limited, also surged 5 percent to 1.05 naira, the biggest daily jump in almost three months. Japaul Oil & Maritime Services Plc, a marine offshore construction and equipment leasing company, gained 5 percent to 84 kobo, the steepest rise since Mar. 11. Livestock Feeds Plc also increased by 5 percent to 63 kobo, the maximum since Feb. 7.

A debt crisis in 2008 and 2009 threatened the Nigerian banking system, prompting the central bank to fire eight chief executives of the country’s 24 lenders and set up the Asset Management Corp. of Nigeria, or Amcon, to buy bad debts and stabilize the industry. Amcon has acquired 3.14 trillion naira ($19 billion) worth of debts, Chief Executive Officer Mustafa Chike-Obi said Nov. 28.

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