UPDATE 1-Nigeria stocks post biggest rise in 3-months after lockdown is phased out

(Updates with index closing, background)

ABUJA, May 5 (Reuters) - Nigerian stocks rose 3.12% on Tuesday to record their biggest rise in three months as shares gained across sectors a day after the government began a gradual easing of a coronavirus lockdown.

The stock market, which has lost 14% so far this year, rose for the seventh session to close at 23,809.31 points, an eight-week high, last seen in March.

Nigerian funds have been switching back to equities from fixed-income securities, hoping for a stock market rebound later this year after a coronavirus-induced rout in oil prices prompted foreign investors to sell off their holdings.

Meanwhile, stock exchange data showed4 foreign investors have been net sellers of Nigerian equities this year, with the pace of outflows accelerating in February as the coronavirus pandemic rattled global markets.

The index of Nigeria’s banking and consumer stocks both rose 2.42% each. The oil and gas index climbed the least, up 0.73%.

Heavyweight Dangote Cement, which accounts for a third of market capitalisation, rose 10%, the maximum allowed on the bourse. MTN Nigeria, the second-biggest listed company, climbed 3.45%.

A total of 29 companies advanced while three were unchanged. Six firms declined with a hundred others recording no trades. (Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha Editing by Mark Heinrich)