By Kevin Mwanza
NAIROBI (Reuters) - The Kenyan shilling was steady on Friday, but was likely to weaken in coming sessions due to a traditional rise in demand for dollars from importers at the end of the month, traders said.
The Nairobi stock exchange rose for the first time in seven sessions, by just 0.1 percent, as some small-cap firms rose on the back of strong results.
Commercial banks posted the shilling at 85.80/90 per dollar at the 1300 GMT close, barely changed from Thursday's 85.70/90.
It has been hemmed in the 85-86 range this week, hampered by concerns over a constitutional challenge to the result of this month's presidential elections.
"The shilling will come under pressure as we come to the end of the month. It may cross the 86 level next week," said Peter Mutuku, head of trading at Bank of Africa.
"It's still not full-steam go ahead for businesses as people keep an eye on the Supreme Court," he added.
Defeated presidential candidate Raila Odinga refuses to accept President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta's win in what was a largely peaceful vote on March 4, in stark contrast to the widespread violence the last time round in 2007.
The Supreme Court is due to rule on Odinga's petition by the end of next week and if it orders a re-run of the election, pressure could pile up on the shilling, analysts say.
The shilling is up 0.3 percent against the dollar so far this year, helped by a rally just before the vote as investors bet that the ballot would pass off peacefully and avoid a repeat of violence which followed a disputed vote in 2007.
"Stocks have recovered some ground backed by the strong earnings, improved income from dividends and sustained speculation on counters yet to announce their results," said Faith Atiti, an analyst at NIC Securities.
Shares in the region's leading media house Nation rose 5.9 percent to 321 shilling per share after the firm said on Wednesday its full-year profit rose by a quarter. ID:nL6N0CCB5K]
"Nation Media Group is still bullish backed by the 1:5 bonus issue and 7.50 shilling final dividend," said Atiti.