…As Iranian health minister resigns over biting US sanctions***
For the second day running, the Nigerian equities market on Thursday lost ground by 0.96 per cent as the bears persisted in the New Year.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the market closed with 13 gainers and 24 losers.
Specifically, the All-Share Index shed 298.74 points or 0.96 per cent to close at 30,771.32 against 31,070.06 achieved on Wednesday.
In the same vein, the market capitalisation closed lower at N11.474 trillion compared with N11.586 trillion on Wednesday, recording a N112 billion decrease.
Stanbic IBTC topped the laggards’ chart, dropping by N1.95 to close at N46 per share.
Guaranty Trust Bank trailed with a loss of N1.55 to close at N32.95, GlaxosmithKline dipped N1.45 to close at N13.05 per share.
Cement Company of Northern Nigeria was down by 95k to close at N18.45, while CAP declined by 85k to close at N34 per share.
Conversely, Forte Oil recorded the highest gain, appreciating by N2.70 to close at N30.70 per share.
Julius Berger followed with a gain of N1.15 to close at N23.25, while Union Bank of Nigeria gained 45k to close at N6.05 per share.
Nigerian Breweries improved by 40k to close at N78.70, while Vitafoam added 17k to close at N4.99 per share.
The volume and value of shares declined by 21.09 per cent and 27.56 per cent, respectively.
Consequently, a total of 169.19 million shares worth N1.13 billion were exchanged by investors in 3,683 deals.
This was in contrast with 214.41 million shares valued at N1.56 billion achieved in 2,856 deals on Wednesday.
Diamond Bank was the most active stock, trading 51.95 million shares worth N107.19 million.
Transcorp followed with an account of 12.81 million shares valued at N15.58 million, while Access Bank traded 11.26 million shares worth N71.39 million.
FCMB Group exchanged 9.77 million shares valued at N16.49 million, while Zenith Bank sold 7.413p million shares worth N168.68 million.
Meanwhile, the Iran’s health minister has resigned, saying he could not accept any further cuts to his budget as the country struggles with a severe financial crisis.
“I am not an impatient person, but enough is enough,” Hassan Hashemi said on a video posted to the Khabar One portal on Thursday.
Reports that Hashemi had resigned have been circulating for days, but on Thursday came confirmation on state media that President Hassan Rowhani had accepted his decision.
Hashemi said he could no longer work effectively given the restricted spending limits proposed in the government’s next budget.
The ministry’s budget was significantly cut for the year beginning March 21.
The cuts were linked to an acute financial crisis caused partly by U.S. sanctions that were re-imposed in 2018.
As the sanctions have hit oil exports, it is not clear how much the state will earn from oil revenues in the future.
The U.S. measures have badly affected the health sector, as some medicines cannot be imported due to bank sanctions.
The sanctions have also put moderate President Rowhani under serious political pressure.
He has had to reorganise his cabinet due to pressure from parliament.
Many Iranians are also unhappy that the government is spending money in conflicts abroad – including in wars in Yemen and Syria, and in support of Palestinians – instead of focusing on domestic affairs.