President Muhammadu Buhari has announced that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will soon commence drilling for a deeper search for oil and gas in the Benue Trough.
This, he said, is the next step following the commencement of drilling in the Kolmani River area, located within Bauchi and Gombe States.
President Buhari, who made the announcement on Wednesday while addressing traditional rulers at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Makurdi, Benue State, recalled that as Minister of Petroleum in the 70s, he had seen “very interesting seismic surveys” that promised oil and gas from the Chad Basin through the Benue Trough down to the Delta region.
He said for mostly commercial reasons, investment was directed to the Niger Delta given the promise of quicker results.
He narrated past efforts by him as Military Head of State to diversify the country’s sources of oil to strengthen its unity, promising that his administration will intensify efforts in this direction.
President Buhari welcomed the observation by the Tor Tiv, His Royal Majesty, Professor James Ayatse, that peace had been restored to Benue State following the spike, sometimes back in farmers and herders’ clashes as well as the fact that the President had so far conducted a decent and peaceful campaign.
The President promised to look at requests for more roads, bridges and tertiary institutions made by the royal father.
Earlier, the Tor Tiv had expressed appreciation to President Buhari, “for the way and manner you have conducted peaceful campaign, no riots, no violence, setting good example. We had a challenging time in 2016. Thanks for your intervention, for accepting our appeal to step up security. Operation Whirl Strike has succeeded in chasing away violent herders.”
The Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom in his remarks, called for free and fair elections, urging all contestants to abide by the outcome.
China's economy grew at its slowest rate since 1990, stoking fears about the impact on the global economy.
China expanded at 6.6% in 2018, official figures out Monday showed.
In the three months to December, the economy grew 6.4% from a year earlier, down from 6.5% in the previous quarter.
The data was in line with forecasts but underlines recent concern about weakening growth in the world's second-biggest economy.
China's rate of expansion has raised worries about the potential knock-on effect on the global economy. The trade war with the US has added to the gloomy outlook.
The official figures out Monday showed the weakest quarterly growth rate since the global financial crisis.
China's economic slowdown is not news in itself. Beijing has broadcast this for several years, that it's going to focus on the quality not quantity of growth.
But still, we should be worried.
Slower growth in China means slower growth for the rest of the world.
It accounts for one-third of global growth. Jobs, exports, commodity producing nations - we all depend on China to buy stuff from us.
Slower growth in China also means it is harder for China to address its mountain of debt, even with the Communist Party's undoubted ability to be able to support the economy.
Growth has been easing for years, but concern over the pace of the slowdown in China has risen in recent months as companies sound the alarm over the crucial market.
Earlier this month Apple warned weakness in China would hit its sales.
Carmakers and other firms have spoken out on the impact of the trade war with the US.
Policymakers in China have stepped up efforts in recent months to support the economy.
Those measures to boost demand include speeding-up construction projects, cutting some taxes, and reducing the level of reserves banks need to hold.
Capital Economics China economist Julian Evans-Pritchard said the Chinese economy remained weak at the end of 2018 "but held up better than many feared".
"Still, with the headwinds from cooling global growth and the lagged impact of slower credit growth set to intensify... China's economy is likely to weaken further before growth stabilises in the second half of the year."
The World Bank has predicted that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Growth, GDP, will expand by 2.2 percent in 2019.
The World Bank made the prediction in its annual Global Economic Prospects published on Wednesday.
The prediction slightly upgraded the country’s projected growth rate from 2.1 per cent in June 2018.
According to the World Bank, growth in sub-Saharan Africa would accelerate to 3.4 per cent in 2019, due to improved investment in large economies together with continued robust growth in non-resource intensive countries.
“Per capita growth is forecast to remain well below the long-term average in many countries, yielding little progress in poverty reduction.
“Growth in Nigeria is expected to rise to 2.2 per cent in 2019, assuming that oil production will recover and a slow improvement in private demand will constrain growth in the non-oil industrial sector.
“Angola is forecast to grow 2.9 per cent in 2019 as the oil sector recovers as new oil fields come on stream and as reforms bolster the business environment.
“South Africa is projected to accelerate modestly to a 1.3 per cent pace, amid constraints on domestic demand and limited government spending,” the bank said.
The World Bank report, while dwelling on the risk to the region’s growth, said escalated trade tensions between the United States and China could impact negatively on the region.
“Faster than expected normalisation of advanced economy monetary policy could result in sharp reductions in capital inflows, higher financing costs and abrupt exchange-rate depreciation.
“Increased reliance on foreign currency borrowing has heightened refinancing and interest rate risk in debtor countries,” the noted.
The report further stated that domestic risks remained elevated and that political uncertainty and a concurrent weakening of economic reforms could continue to weigh on the economic outlook in many countries.
“In countries like Mozambique, Nigeria, and South Africa holding elections in 2019, domestic political considerations could undermine the commitments needed to rein in fiscal deficits, especially where public debt levels are high and rising.
Market capitalization at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) dropped by N100.2 billion on Thursday as stocks of banks and industrial companies listed on the Exchange recorded losses.
The market capitalization which opened on Thursday after a two-day break at N11.676 trillion, closed at N11.576 trillion, a difference of N100.2 billion, while the All Share Index dropped by 0.9 per cent to 31,692.63 basis points, and the year-to-date loss worsened to -17.1 per cent.
Analysts are of the opinion that the negative market performance was dragged by losses recorded in FBN Holdings Plc, Dangote Cement Plc and Access Bank Plc.
Activity level at the exchange fell as volume and value declined by 36.7 per cent and 49.8 per cent to 452.260 million units and N2.608bn, respectively.
The top traded stocks by volume were Medview Airline Plc (146.9 million units), NEM Insurance Plc (45.9million units) and Transcorp Hotels Plc (37.5 million units), while Zenith Bank Plc (N646.2m), Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (N345.6m) and MEDVIEW AIRline (293.9m) were the top traded stocks by value.
The losses not withstanding, performance across sectors was largely positive as three of five indices closed higher.
The Oil & Gas index yielded the most, with a 1.3 per cent gain due to price appreciations recorded in Forte Oil Plc and Conoil Plc while the Banking index gained 0.2 per cent on the back of price appreciations in Diamond Bank Plc, First City Monument Bank Plc and GTB.
The Consumer Goods index increased by 0.04 per cent as a result of the gains recorded in Nigerian Breweries Plc and Nascon Allied Industries Plc.
However, sell pressures in Dangote Cement, NEM Insurance and Niger Insurance dragged the industrial and insurance indices lower by 2.11 per cent and 0.69 per cent, respectively.
Investor sentiment strengthened as market breadth declined to 1.9x against 7.2x in the previous session, which was as a result of the 30 gainers that emerged against 16 decliners at the end of trading on Thursday.
The top performers were NPF Microfinance Bank Plc, Mutual Benefits Assurance Plc and Conoil Plc, whose respective share prices gained 10 per cent, 10 per cent and 10 per cent.
The top losers were UACN Property Development Company Plc, NEM Insurance and Niger Insurance, which saw their share prices decline by10 per cent, 9.2 per cent and 8.3 per cent, respectively.
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday lamented that despite successes recorded by the Economic Community of West African State, ECOWAS, the body is still faced difficulties in the economic, governance, peace, security and humanitarian fields.
Buhari, who is the current Chairman of ECOWAS spoke while declaring open the 54th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS in Abuja, Nigeria.
According to him, the regional organisation was still confronted by several challenges that must be tackled, observing that the lofty ideals of ECOWAS, including the promotion of cooperation and integration, leading to the establishment of an Economic and Monetary Union in West Africa as well as the creation of a borderless peaceful, prosperous and cohesive region, would be unattainable without peace and security.
He said this was why he decided to make the issue of peace and security the major focus of his chairmanship.
Buhari noted that his efforts had started yielding dividends as the organisation had been able to douse tension and restore confidence in some potentially disruptive situations, particularly in Guinea Bissau, Togo and Mali.
On the forthcoming national elections in Nigeria and Senegal in 2019, the Nigerian leader said he had already pledged to conduct free, fair and credible elections.
“In the same vein, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and other political stakeholders, have expressed their unwavering commitment to the conduct of peaceful elections devoid of violence, rancour and acrimony, in the higher interest of the nation,’’ he added.
But he noted with concern that terrorism and violent extremism had continued to threaten peace and security in the sub-region.
The president said: “This threat calls for collective action on our part, if we are to effectively and definitively eliminate it.
“As we work on new strategies to combat and eradicate this menace, we require the support of our partners to ensure the achievement of our objectives.’’
Buhari, however, commended leaders of ECOWAS for their efforts in promoting peace, stability and development in the sub-region.
The president particularly paid special tribute to President Nana Akuffo-Addo of Ghana, President Alpha Conde of Republic of Guinea and ECOWAS facilitators in the resolution of the Togolese political crisis, for their tireless endeavours towards a peaceful settlement.
“I’m also glad for the significant progress made through our collective efforts towards the resolution of the political and institutional crisis in Guinea Bissau.
“Within the framework of our regional solidarity, we have assisted the governments of Togo and Mali in tackling political and security problems while also addressing food challenges in parts of the sub-region.
“We have also extended electoral support and assistance to several countries and acted pro-actively to neutralise some potential conflicts through preventive diplomacy before they exploded. In this connection, we welcome the successful elections held in Sierra Leone and Mali in 2018,’’ he said.
The Nigerian leader further stated that the organisation’s determination to create a safe and stable sub-region must be predicated on a strong and capable ECOWAS, adding that no institution can function effectively without adequate funding.
“This would require that all hands are on deck and that all Member States ensure the payment of the Statutory Community Levy as and as when due.
“By so doing, we will empower and enable the Commission to implement the Integration Agenda, as we march towards the year 2020, and actualise our vision of building an ECOWAS of Peoples and not of States,’’ he said.
He also stressed the need for member states to join forces to eliminate those factors that were militating against a secure, conducive and prosperous environment for the benefit of the people in the sub-region.
The president noted that such actions would enable them (Member States) address the continuing fragility of the sub-region’s economies linked closely to commodity prices, nascent democracies, negative effects of climate change on farming systems and the globalisation of crime and terrorism.
“These realities remind us of the need for even stronger intra-ECOWAS solidarity in order to address emerging challenges.
“This is indeed the very sense of our Union. To that end, important decisions are taken in the course of our meetings, with the goal of impacting transforming positively on the lives of our citizens,’’ he said.
Buhari disclosed that during today’s Ordinary Session, the regional leaders would be expected to take several decisions on a number of issues.
He said: “As is our custom, our Session would consider these matters from the reports on today’s agenda as follows: the 2018 Annual Report of ECOWAS ; the Report of the 81st Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers and the Report of the 41st Ordinary Session of the Mediation and Security Council.’’
Other matters to be deliberated upon, he said, included the Reports on the Political and Security Situation of the Region, and the Report on the Process for the Establishment of the ECOWAS Single Currency.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mohamed Ibn-Chambas, noted that in the past months the sub-region had been witnessing the successful conduct of elections, contributing to the progress the sub-region was making in the consolidation of democracy.
Ibn-Chambas, who spoke in both English and French languages, however, stressed the need for more efforts to be made to address contentious issues related to conduct of elections to prevent and mitigate election-related violence, human rights abuses and promote respect for the rule of law.
“Upcoming elections in the sub region will present opportunities for further consolidating democracy.
“UNOWAS is coordinating efforts with the ECOWAS Commission to ensure appropriate support to these countries in their efforts to organise free, credible and peaceful elections,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) observed that Morocco is not on the agenda of the 54th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS of Heads of State and Government.
Morocco had made its request to be a member of ECOWAS while Tunisia requested to be an observer country.
NAN also reports that former Nigerian military Head of State, retired Gen. Yakubu Gowon, was among the dignitaries attending the summit.
The National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, has said that the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, grew to 1.81 percent (year-on-year) in real terms in the third quarter of 2018 compared to the 1.50 in the second quarter of the same year.
This, the NBS said in a report released on Monday, was aided by the non-oil sector of the economy.
According to the report, in nominal terms, aggregate GDP stood at N33.36 trillion while real GDP was estimated at N18.08 trillion.
Growth in Q3 was largely helped by the non-oil sector, which contributed 90.62 per cent to total GDP while the oil sector contributed 9.38 per cent to growth in the review period.
However, Oil GDP contracted by -2.91 per cent compared to -3.95 per cent in Q2 and 23.93 per cent in Q3 2017.
The report also showed that average daily oil production fell to 1.94 million barrels per day (mbpd), higher than that of the 1.84mbpd recorded in Q2 by 0.10 mbpd- but lower than the 2.02 mbpd recorded in the same quarter of 2017 by -0.08mbpd.
The report further showed that real growth of the oil sector was –2.91 per cent (year-on-year) in Q3, indicating a decrease of –25.94 percentage points relative to rate recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2017.
The non-oil sector however grew by 2.32 per cent in real terms in Q3, representing 0.28 percentage points higher than the 2.05 per cent in preceding quarter and by 3.08 percentage points higher compared to the -0.76 per cent recorded same quarter of 2017.
The NBS report said the non-oil sector was mainly driven by Information and communication sector while other drivers include agriculture, manufacturing, trade, transportation and storage and professional, scientific and technical services.
For the sectoral contribution of GDP growth in the period under review, The NBS report showed that information and communication sector contributed 10.55 per cent to real GDP while agriculture 29.25 per cent to real GDP.
Manufacturing contributed 8.84 per cent to growth while services accounted for 48.79 per cent as well as industries which contributed 21.97 percent to real growth.
Also, trade contributed 15.80 per cent to real GDP while finance and insurance 2.52 per cent to growth as well as construction which recorded 3.01 per cent to GDP.
Market capitalization on the Nigeria Stock Exchange shed N39.89bn on Wednesday as the gains recorded in the previous session were pared.
The market capitalisation, which stood at N11.255tn on Tuesday, dropped to N11.215tn on Wednesday, while the All Share Index declined by 0.35 per cent to settle at 30,704.98 basis points.
Major benchmarks closed in the red at the end of trading on the floor of the Exchange on Wednesday.
The NSE Oil/Gas Index slid by 2.99 per cent, emerging the biggest loser as sinking oil prices hit energy companies.
Sell pressures were witnessed in Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc and Total Nigeria Plc.
The NSE Industrial Index was the second biggest loser, with a 1.14 per cent loss due to sell-offs in Dangote Cement Plc.
Similarly, the NSE Banking Index depreciated by 0.21 per cent on the back of major losses witnessed in Guaranty Trust Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc.
The NSE Consumer Goods Index was however the highest gainer, with a 1.18 per cent gain as major stocks such as Nestlé Nigeria Plc and Nigerian Breweries Plc recorded price appreciation.
The NSE Insurance Index trailed, gaining a meagre 0.23 per cent on the back of gains recorded in Lasaco Assurance Plc and Wapic Insurance Plc.
The volume and value traded weakened by 36.4 per cent and 19.5 per cent to 200.997 million units and N4.098bn, respectively.
Top traded stocks by volume were Zenith Bank (51.895 million units), Lafarge Africa Plc (38.652 million units) and FBN Holdings Plc (15.852 million units), while Zenith Bank (N1.2bn), Dangote Cement (N502.7m) and Lafarge Africa (N457.3m) were the top traded stocks by value.
Investor sentiment took a further dip to 1.3x from 1.8x recorded on Tuesday as the year-to-date loss dipped to -19.7 per cent.
There were twenty-three gainers and 18 lossers at the end of trading on Wednesday.
Forte Oil, which was the second highest gainer on Tuesday, advanced to top the list as the highest gainer on Wednesday, with a 9.85 per cent increase to N26.20 per share.
Diamond Bank Plc’s share price appreciated further, gaining 9.65 per cent as it closed at N1.25.
Access Bank Plc reversed the losses it made on Tuesday as it emerged the 12th highest gainer, with a 2.60 per cent increase to close at N7.90 per share.
Five other banks ― Unity Bank Plc, Wema Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, FBN Holdings Plc and Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc ― were on the gainers’ list, despite the 0.21 per cent decline recorded in the banking index.
Abbey Mortgage Bank Plc was the biggest loser, with a 7.55 per cent share price depreciation.
Abbey Mortgage Bank, Seplat, Jaiz Bank Plc, Japaul Oil & Maritime Services Plc and Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, were the top five losers.
They recorded price depreciation of 7.55 per cent, 6.53 per cent, 6.12 per cent, 4.76 per cent and 4.29 per cent.
Nigeria’s 2019 Budget may face hiccups as the current crude oil prices in the international market has fallen below the Budget benchmark.
On Monday, crude oil price dropped from $66.00 to $57.00 per barrel in the international market, indicating $3.00 below the $60 benchmark of the 2019 budget.
The price of Brent fell by as much as 4 per cent, hitting a low of $57.20 a barrel, in its third straight day of decline, while West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark, weakened as much as 4.1 per cent to $47.84, the lowest level since September 2017.
Similarly, the price of Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, basket of 15 crudes stood at $58.24 a barrel, compared with $59.07 the previous Friday, according to OPEC Secretariat calculations.
According to reports, the situation was not anticipated as stakeholders, who rose from the recent 5th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting, were optimistic that stability would be achieved in the global market.
OPEC stated in a statement after its meeting in Vienna: “Following deliberations on the immediate oil market prospects and in view of a growing imbalance between global oil supply and demand in 2019, hereby decided to adjust the overall production by 1.2 mb/d, effective as of January 2019 for an initial period of six months.
“The contributions from OPEC and the voluntary contributions from non-OPEC participating countries of the ‘Declaration of Cooperation’ will correspond to 0.8 mb/d (2.5%), and 0.4 mb/d (2.0%), respectively.”
However, the current situation was said to have been fuelled by weaker oil demand amid over-supply from producing nations, currently not involved in OPEC and Non-OPEC accord.
China's November industrial production growth eased sharply from 5.9% to 5.4%, the lowest level since 2009. Global stocks plunged.
Retail growth also eased, growing at 8.1%, which is the weakest pace in 15 years.
Cracks are also continuing to show in Europe, with Italy, Germany, car sales, France, and Brexit all weighing on sentiment.
Fear has taken hold in equity markets after China's industrial production plummeted, sparking a selloff that spread globally. Cracks in the European economy are also continuing to show, weighing on those region's equities.
China's November industrial production growth eased sharply from 5.9% to 5.4%, the lowest level since 2009. The data pointed to weak performance in key export sectors such as computers, electronics and autos.
Retail growth also eased, growing at 8.1%, which is the weakest pace in 15 years, says Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.
China's November trade data indicated signs of weaker growth in the rest of the world. Export growth declined from 15.5% to 5.4% with shipments to the EU and ASEAN countries showing weakness while exports to the US dropped to 9.8% from 13.2%, according to Societe Generale.
"There have been some troublesome figures coming out of China in 2018 and another batch has now served to drag down markets in Asia and Europe," Mould said. "China is finding it hard to sustain high levels of economic growth. There is some concern that the impact of the US-China trade war has yet to be properly felt, suggesting that China's economic data could be in for more shocks in early 2019 unless the countries secure a permanent truce."
Problems are also rumbling in Europe. Fears about Italy's budget remained front and center on Friday after the European Union suggested there was more to be done on the country's budget deficit. British Prime Minister Theresa May was rebuffed by EU leaders in her attempts to renegotiate her Brexit deal. Germany's problems continued with composite PMI numbers sliding in December.
It follows an already subdued mood in Europe. The European Central Bank announced Thursday that it cut its economic growth forecasts and would end its bond buying stimulus program. France's yellow-vest protests are harming the country's economy.
Here's a roundup of markets:
The JSE was down 1% and the rand slumped 1.5% to R14.37/$ early afternoon on Friday.
In Asia, the Shanghai Composite closed down 1.7%. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.3%. Japan's Nikkei also fell 2% Friday.
The Euro Stoxx 50 down 1.1% as of 10.20 am in London (5.20 am EST). The DAX, FTSE, and CAC were all down more than 1%.
US stock index futures are following suit. The Nasdaq, S&P 500 and Dow 30 all down about 1% in premarket.
China's woes weighed on commodities. Copper futures are down 1% while Brent crude continued to tumble despite agreed OPEC and Russian cuts last week. Oil is down 0.6%.
European car stocks also plunged after data showed new EU licenses fell 8.0% year-over-year in November following a 7.3% fall in October. Renault is down 3.6% while Volkswagen, Peugeot, Daimler are trading down 2.4%. Germany's BMW is down 1.9% and Fiat Chrysler is down 2%. Full year car sales are expected to drop to 2% in 2018, down from 5% in 2017.
A report by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has shown that Nigeria recorded $4.54 billion in deficit in the provisional Balance of Payments estimates for Q3, 2018.
The figure showed a significant downturn in the country’s position when compared to surpluses of $503m and $2.78bn recorded in the preceding quarter and the corresponding period of 2017, respectively.
The balance of payment is a summary of all monetary transactions between a country and the rest of the world. These transactions are made by individuals, firms and government bodies.
The CBN third quarter 2018 brief on balance of payment statistics released on Friday, also showed that Current Account Balance also worsened from a surplus of $4.45bn in Q2, 2018 to a deficit of $3.1bn in Q3 2018.
The financial account balance indicated an increased net incurrence of financial liabilities of $10.72bn in the review period as against $2.57bn recorded in the preceding period.
The CBN brief also noted that the current account indicated a negative outcome during the review period, recording a deficit of $3.10bn as against surpluses of $4.45bn and $1.97bn in the previous quarter and the corresponding period of 2017, respectively.
This, the brief said is because of increased payment for imports.
Export earnings rose by 2.8 per cent to $16.21bn in Q3, 2018 when compared with Q2, 2018.
The brief also showed that crude oil and gas dominated export arnings, accounting for 94.4 percent for the review, increasing by 9.5 per cent to $15.301bn in Q3, 2018, when compared with the preceding quarter.
Earnings from non-oil and electricity exports decreased by 49.3 per cent to $909m in Q3, 2018 when compared with the preceding quarter.
Available data showed that payments for the import of goods (fob) to the economy in the review period increased by 70.5 per cent to $14.085bn above the level recorded in the preceding quarter.
This was largely as a result of 79.7 per cent increase in the imports of non-oil products.
Direct Investments inflow increased by 0.7 per cent to $438.84m when compared with the preceding quarter of 2018.
It, however, indicated a decline of 45.0 per cent when compared to the corresponding period of 2017.
Similarly, portfolio investments inflow to the economy decreased significantly to $1.79bn in Q3, 2018 from $4.233bn and $3.320bn in the preceding quarter and the corresponding period of 2017, respectively.
The brief also showed that other investment liabilities increased slightly to $4.28bn when compared with $3.226bn recorded in the preceding quarter.
The stock of external reserves as of the end of September 2018 stood at $42.60bn indicating a depletion of 9.6 per cent when compared with the level in the preceding quarter.