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Where smart investors will put their cash in 2019

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Nairobi Securities Exchange
The Nairobi Securities Exchange. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Investors who took a battering from the dismal performance by the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) in 2018 have a chance to recover this year as the market claws back some of the lost ground, analysts said.

Property and offshore investments are also primed to give higher returns having closed the year with lower returns than the previous year’s.

The benchmark NSE 20 share index closed 2018 trading at 10-year low levels having shed a quarter of its value at the beginning of the year to stand at 2,755 points.

The All Share Index closed the year at 19-month lows, having shed 18.8 per cent in 2018. Investor wealth — measured by market capitalisation — shed Sh442 billion in the year to close at Sh2.08 trillion.

It has been a sharp turnaround for the market, which closed 2017 as the best performing asset class after gaining 17 percent for the NSE 20 and 27 percent for the NASI.

Analysts, however, said the market seems to have hit a resistance level of 2,700 points, giving investors hope that the debilitating bear run may have bottomed out.

Multiple reports filed by players in the different investment segments have indicated that the Nairobi bourse largely stood out in the past year as the sole major investment class that produced negative returns.

The travails of the market is bad news for pension funds and insurance firms, who are among the biggest investors in equities.

But there is hope as the new year starts, partly because most analyses have pointed to the fact that stocks are undervalued and primed for a rebound as investors troop back to buy on the cheap.

“The equities market is expected to recover in 2019 as cheap valuations currently exist in the market, which is bound to interest investors.

“Moreover, we are likely to see foreign investors return to the market and reverse the net selling trend we have witnessed this year on account of a stable macroeconomic environment,” said Genghis Capital analyst Patrick Mumu.

Fixed income returns were most favourable in 2018, the yield on the five-year bond having averaged 12 per cent, while the shorter-term 91- and 364-day Treasury bills averaged 7.8 and 10.5 per cent respectively.

They are tipped to retain a positive return this year, even though the yields may fall gradually as banks deepen their lending to government instead of the private sector.

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“For fixed income instruments, we are likely to see a gradual decline in yields as government continues to crowd out the private sector and reject aggressive bids in the auction market,” Mr Mumu said.

Meanwhile, the shilling has been largely stable, appreciating by 0.6 per cent to the dollar in 2018.

A key risk, however, remains for the capital markets in the form of rising US interest rates that have led to flight from emerging and frontier markets.

Real estate, which suffered a tough year in 2017 during the prolonged electioneering that spooked investors, is seen as likely to continue its modest recovery in 2018, driven by demand in the hospitality segment.

In the one year to September, sale prices for houses in Nairobi went up by 8.1 per cent, while rental prices rose 4.7 per cent, according to market data compiled by realtors HassConsult.

Nairobi has been attracting a higher number of high-profile meetings and international conferences that have seen a rise in demand for hospitality units.

“The flourishing niche market for meetings, conference and exhibition tourism has opened an opportunity for entrepreneurs who are turning houses and apartments for renting to attendees of major conferences, some of whom prefer serviced apartments and houses over hotels and this is resulting in an uptick in prices,” said HassConsult’s head of development consulting and research, Sakina Hassanali, in the firm’s price index for quarter three of 2018.

Investment firm Cytonn said the Nairobi metropolitan area, which had approximately 3,414 serviced apartments at the end of 2015, is expected to bring on board additional 1,174 by 2020.

Land prices are, however, likely to be dampened as buyers await details of the government’s 500,000 affordable housing plan.

“The Housing department has stated that it will among other initiatives invest in infrastructure in certain suburbs and satellite towns as well as develop some of its land holdings.

These actions could potentially tilt the market as investors often go where new infrastructure is being put up,” said Ms Hassanali.

Offshore investments were among the most improved in terms of returns in the past year, having increased annualised returns in the one year to September 2018 by average five per cent compared to the same period in 2017.

Pension firms, which are among the most active in this segment, reported that average returns from this asset class in the year to September 2018 stood at 7.7 per cent, according to a survey done by fund administrator Zamara.

In the corresponding period in 2017, the returns stood at 15.4 per cent.

They are, however, likely to continue giving a positive return due to rising interest rates in the US, where the Federal Reserve has jacked up its benchmark rate to 2.5 per cent, with a further two raises expected this year.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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