Nigeria Economic Crisis Worsens, Stock Exchange Yesterday Closed At Its Lowest In Three Years, Down 2.5%.

Nigeria might be the richest economy in Africa but that does not impress hard-nosed investors who buy and sell shares at the local stock exchange. The West African financial market had another losing day today, closing at its lowest level for more than three years, down 2.5%.

Investors are growing increasingly worried about the outlook for the biggest economy in sub-Saharan Africa, largely because the country is too dependent on revenues from the energy industry and the price of oil has fallen through the floor.

Last week, Brent crude oil, the benchmark blend of oil traded in London, fell below $35 (£24) a barrel and prices of West Africa’s Bonny Light crude oil has followed the downward spiral. Last year, the benchmark gauge of Nigerian shares fell more than 17 % as the market reflected investors fears about the huge economic challenge the government faces.

Six months ago, Nigeria's central bank imposed measures to restrict access to US dollars, used to import certain items, in an effort to conserve its reserves of foreign currency, amid sinking oil prices. However, the move has made it more difficult for Nigerian manufacturers to buy raw materials from sources abroad, because of limits of supplies of dollars and that is restricting economic growth.

The top shares among the losers today reflect the impact of the central bank’s policy, the cement maker Lafarge Africa is down 9.6%, Unity Bank 9.4% and Dangote Cement, which accounts for about a third of total market capitalisation, shed 4.3%, according to Reuters news agency.

It is reported pension funds are selling shares bought last year to hold cash as a buffer against expected losses caused by Nigeria’s weak economy. Source; The BBC