Oil report

RPT-UPDATE 2-Nigerian stocks surge in volatile trades as funds bet on equities

(Repeats to wider audience)

ABUJA, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Nigerian stocks posted their biggest daily gain in more than 5-1/2 years on Thursday, triggering a circuit breaker on the bourse for the first time to halt volatility after the index hit a five-percent limit.

Domestic funds piled into shares, taking gains on the index to 6.23%, or 35,342.46 points. Stocks rose to a more than two-year high on Thursday, extending gains for a fifth session to a level last seen in August 2018.

Shares last gained 8.3% in April 2015, when Muhammadu Buhari became the first Nigerian to oust a president through the ballot box, putting him in charge of Africa’s biggest economy.

Local funds have fuelled the recent stock market rally after rotating out of the debt market due to low yields.

Stocks have been rising since last month after the central bank unexpectedly cut interest rates the previous month to spur growth, triggering a re-rating on equities.

The rate cut coupled with low bond yield have boosted cash on Nigeria’s money market, which had excess liquidity after foreign investors dumped local assets when the novel coronavirus pandemic caused oil prices to crash earlier this year.

The index of Nigeria’s top 10 lenders rose 7.69% to lead the charge, while consumer goods stocks jumped 5.9% and oil stocks climbed 1.84%.

To further lift sentiment, benchmark Brent crude oil, Nigeria’s main export, on Wednesday rose to a more than two-month high above $45 a barrel on hopes for an effective COVID-19 vaccine.

Nigeria’s third-biggest listed company, Airtel Africa , BUA Cement, Sterling Bank and Cadbury among others, rose the maximum 10% allowed on the exchange.

A total of 63 companies advanced and eight firms declined, while 90 others saw no trades. (Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Bernadette Baum)