August 20, 2014 / 2:56 PM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-Kenyan shilling firms, main share index slips

* Profit-taking helps to support the shilling

* Kenya Airways shares down by 2 percent (Adds closing rate, shares)

By Duncan Miriri

NAIROBI, Aug 20 (Reuters) - The Kenyan shilling firmed on Wednesday, lifted by profit-taking and exporters cashing in on the currency's recent losses, while the NSE-20 share index stumbled.

At the 1300 GMT close of trade, commercial banks quoted the shilling at 88.20/30 to the dollar, up from Tuesday's close of 88.35/88.45, its low for this year.

The shilling slipped past 88.20 per dollar late on Monday, triggering panic-buying among importers in Tuesday's session, which pushed it to its 2014 low.

"It (88.20) was like a stop loss for most people. No one thought it would go below that," said a commercial bank trader.

Market participants however said the downward pressure had ebbed, as some players booked their gains by selling dollars, meaning the shilling was likely to be hemmed in a band of 88.00-88.50 over the next few days.

"Exporters are taking advantage of these favourable rates... we have seen exporters coming out of the woodwork," said the trader.

Kenya earns its foreign exchange mainly from exports of tea, fresh produce like cut flowers and the tourism business.

On the stock market, the benchmark NSE-20 share index fell by 0.42 percent to close at 5,048.69 points.

Kenya Airways declined by 2 percent to close at 9.60 shillings per share as investors fretted over the impact of the Ebola outbreak in west Africa on its operations.

The carrier, whose strategy hinges on connecting African travellers to the rest of the world through its Nairobi hub, suspended its flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone due to concerns over the outbreak of the virus.

In the debt market, bonds worth 1.8 billion shillings were traded, down from a volume of 2.9 billion shillings in the previous session.

...........................Shilling spot rates .....................Shilling forward rates .......................Cross rates ..................................Local contributors .......................Central Bank of Kenya Index .....................Kenyan Bonds contributor pages ...............Treasury bill yields ..................Central bank open market operations .........................Horizontal repo transactions ,................Daily interbank lending rate .............................Kenya Bond pricing ..................Real time Africa economic data <ECI & AFR> ...........................African economic news .................................NSE-20 Share Index .................................NSE All Share Index ...........................FT NSE Kenya 15 Index .......................... FT NSE Kenya 25 Index SPEED GUIDES:

Editing by Mark Heinrich

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