Arab bourses gain more than $36bn in six weeks

Arab equity investors increased their wealth by more than $36 billion (Dh132bn) in the first six weeks of 2010 and the bulk of the gains were in the UAE and other Gulf oil producers, official data showed yesterday.

From around $890bn at the end of 2009, the combined market capitalisation of Arab bourses swelled to nearly $926.6bn on February 19, an increase of $36.6bn, showed the figures by the Abu Dhabi-based Arab Monetary Fund (AMF), which tracks regional markets.

The gains were mainly in the bourses of the UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar as there was a decline in most other Arab stock exchanges. Saudi Arabia's Tadawul, by far the largest and busiest stock market in the Middle East, gained around $7bn. Kuwait surged by nearly $13bn while Qatar gained about $4bn.

Abu Dhabi's bourse also grew by nearly $4bn while Dubai rose by about $1bn. There were slight increases in the smaller GCC exchanges of Oman and Bahrain, said the AMF.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt fell by about $1bn while there where small declines in Jordan and Lebanon and a slight rise in Morocco. Analysts expect 2010 to be a better year for the region's markets due to global recovery, higher oil prices and an expected better performance by listed firms. They also cited what they described as improving confidence.

"Last year was not a good year for the Arab markets although many of them ended the year higher," said Fadi Kiswani from Sharjah-based Sharhan Securities. "But 2010 will be better, more stable and more profitable… the main reason is that there will be a better business environment and this will help improve confidence."

Despite sharp fluctuations in 2009, the Arab stock markets ended the year with an increase of approximately $85bn against a staggering decline of nearly $525bn through 2008.

 

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