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Arab stocks plunge on aftershocks from Egyptian uprising

Friday February 18, 2011 09:41:06 PM, IANS

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Amman: Arab stock markets plummeted this week amid deepening investor concerns over a possible dive when the Egyptian stock market reopens after three weeks' closure, financial analysts said Friday.

They also attributed the decline to growing "military and security concerns" in the region with tension escalating between Lebanon's Hezbollah militias and Israel, and demonstrations sweeping several Arab states.

"Regional markets are coming under increasing psychological pressures from the prolonged closure of the Egyptian bourse and demonstrations that gather momentum throughout the Arab world," Wajdi Makhamreh, CEO of the Amman-based Noor Investments Brokerage, told DPA.

"I believe the slippage of Arab stock markets, particularly in the Gulf area, is prompted by fears on the part of firms that have projects in Egypt," he said.

"Regional investors resort to selling to avoid losses because they believe Egyptian stocks would plummet when the bourse re-opens, sending a negative signal to all markets in the region," he added.

However, Makhamreh said rising oil prices would help prop up regional markets in the medium and long terms.

Saudi shares in particular suffered from the fallout of the Egyptian uprising, with the decline led by the banking, petrochemical and telecom sectors.

The Tadawul All Share Index (TASI) of the Arab world's largest bourse shed 1.89 percent on a weekly basis, to close at 6,486.60 points.

"Undoubtedly, financial markets are coming under pressure from situations where concerns of security nature arise," said Abdullah Baeshen, chairman of the Riyadh-based TeamOne financial consultancy firm.

"Scared investors apparently resort to sell-off at this juncture and prefer liquid assets because they don't know what happens next," he added.

Jordanian shares were the main losers in the area this week mainly due to decisions taken by the Amman Stock Exchange management to put assets of key investors under custody to ensure repayment of loans, Makhamreh said.

The ASE all-share index plunged 3.4 percent this week, closing at 2,285, with blue chips taking the lead.

Kuwait's KSE all-share index lost 2.6 per cent this week, closing at 6,559 points. The decline was led by the investment, industrial and banking sectors, analysts said.

The benchmarks of the United Arab Emirates stock exchanges of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, shed 0.2 per cent and 0.9 percent, closing respectively at 1,595 points and 2,683 points.

The all-share index of Qatar's stock market also lost 2.76 percent, to close at 8,703 points.

 

 

 

 

 

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