Broader concerns about the market and general unease about Egypt’s direction pressured the local currency, the pound, although efforts by the caretaker government to organize elections for September boosted investor sentiment. But several blue chip stocks have yet to recover losses.
Analysts said the euro/dollar dynamics have been front and center for equity markets in Africa and the Caribbean. However, domestic matters, including plans for unveiling of 2011 budget in Nigeria, decisions on key interest rates in Kenya and the sale of state firms in several countries, will likely drive trading as 2010 draws to a close.
African and Caribbean markets struggled to shake off holiday blues in the New Year after riding higher on Christmas euphoria. TNJ‘s AfriCarib index climbed to a two-month high in December amid speculation that the global economic recovery was taking hold and growth was accelerating in Asia and the United States.
Stocks have been falling across Africa since political turmoil that started in January in Tunisia escalated into a full-blown revolution in February, pushing investors away from risky emerging and frontier markets and back to developed economies.
The debt crisis in Europe, worries about a possible double-dip recession in the U.S. and a slowdown in Chinese growth have trimmed market confidence worldwide, including in Africa and the Caribbean.
After the rally of 2009, uncertainties for the next nine months are now curbing gains for African and Caribbean markets. There are two opposing worldviews. One holds that the economic recovery underway is the start of a bull market. The other predicts a bearish stretch because the markets are overbought and the recovery is fragile.
Major stock indices in Africa and the Caribbean are riding an upturn in corporate earnings and on expectations for higher economic growth to regain the investment capital ceded to the bond market in last year’s recession.
African markets will benefit from millions of visitors heading to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, which starts June 11. Tourism, transportation, food services and banking are among the sectors likely to post gains.
With developed markets still recovering from the Great Recession and emerging markets developing bubbles that may soon burst, investors may have to look to the frontier markets in Africa and the Caribbean to diversify their portfolios.
Frontier market stocks rose in December 2009 after China raised its economic growth forecast and oil prices climbed, capping six months of recovery after a plunge in 2008 through early 2009. The outlook for 2010 is a little brighter, with African markets revving up while Caribbean markets remain flat until late in the year or early 2011.