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Kenyan shilling eases, main share index near 2-1/2 year low

Kenyan shilling eases, main share index near 2-1/2 year lowNAIROBI: The Kenyan shilling eased on Friday, while stocks fell to a two-year and five-month low as both markets closed early due to the visit of US President Barack Obama.

At close of trade at 1000 GMT, commercial banks quoted the shilling at 101.15/25 to the dollar versus Thursday’s close of 100.75/85 as banks covered their short dollar positions.

“It’s a thin market, so people wanted to square off their positions because the forex market is closing at 1 pm. It’s just short covering (of dollar positions),” a senior trader at one commercial bank said.

Major roads in the capital Nairobi will be closed to the public for several hours in the afternoon before Obama’s arrival to attend a global entrepreneurship summit.

The shilling has benefited this week from a liquidity squeeze in the money markets that forced banks to cut their hard currency holdings to meet their local currency funding needs.

The weighted average interest rate on the overnight borrowing market for banks soared to 16.3769 percent on Thursday from 15.4220 percent the previous day.

On the Nairobi Securities Exchange, the main NSE-20 Share Index was down 39.04 points to close at 4,500.43 points, falling for the 13th straight session.

The index was near this level in Feb.25, 2013, when it closed at 4,463.65 points.

Daniel Kuyoh, research analyst at Kingdom Securities, said the fall was a continuation of a local retail investor sell-off that started earlier this week, taking cue from foreign investors who are exiting to limit their foreign exchange losses.

“It’s still the same dynamics. Majority of the trades are being driven by retail investors, mainly on the bluechip counters (shares),” Kuyoh said.

On the secondary market, government bonds worth 9.51 million shillings ($ 94,019) were traded, compared with 25.1 million shillings on Thursday.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

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