The US Labor Department made data on initial unemployment claims available over the week. The week before Christmas saw an increase in first unemployment claims, according to the agency, as the once-hot labor market continued to drop. For the week ending December 2023, the number of first applications for unemployment benefits increased by 12,000 to 218,000. The four-week average of claims, which helps reduce volatility, decreased by 250 to 212,000, even though the claims data represents the second consecutive increase in unemployment claims.
During the week, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) released a statement to reassure the public that Nigerian banks are safe and sound despite reports suggesting the Federal Government may take over some CBN-supervised financial institutions.
Equities and stock recommendation
In the final week of 2023, the Nigerian Equities market gained 101bps WoW to settle at 74,773.77 points, bringing the market’s year-to-date (YtD) returns up to 45.90% from last week’s 44.43% YtD. This week, all sectors under our coverage closed on a positive note except the Consumer Goods sector, which extended its bearish run by losing 1.46% WoW.
At the primary NTB auction held this week, the average stop declined by 50bps to 9.75% compared to 10.25% at the previous auction. The average bid-to-cover ratio dipped by 86.62% to 15.48x (vs 115.72x at the last auction), driven by a decrease in demand for the 91-day (NGN43.58bn to NGN18.81bn) and 365-day (NGN1, 478.02trn to NGN968.20bn) bills.
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