Arab markets lose $75bn in 10 months

Arab equity investors emerged from 10 months of share dealing in 2011 less wealthy by nearly $75 billion and those in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Egypt were the main victims. Fast-growing Qatar was the only major gainer.

From around $955bn at the start of January, the combined market capitalization of 14 official Arab stock exchanges dipped to nearly $878bn on October 30, one of its lowest levels in a year.

Analysts attributed the fall to political unrest sweeping the region and global financial upheavals, adding that high oil prices and a strong recovery in most regional economies offset a sharp drop in local markets.

A report by the Abu Dhabi-based Arab Monetary Fund (AFM), which tracks regional bourses, showed Kuwait was hit worst although its economy is rebounding and the country is outside the unrest-infested area.

From about $124bn at the start of 2011, Kuwait’s market capitalisation tumbled by nearly $25bn to $99bn on October 30.

Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul, by far the largest and busiest bourse in the Middle East, plunged by $14bn from $340bn to $326bn.

Dubai’s bourse, one of the busiest markets in the region, lost nearly $four billion from about $53bn to $49bn. Abu Dhabi also shrank from nearly $67.8bn to $65.7bn in the same period,Bahrain’s bourse receded from $20.5bn to $16.6bn while Oman’s Muscat securities market slumped from $21.8bn to $19bn, said the AMF, a key financial establishment affiliated to the Cairo-based Arab League.

Qatar, which is recording the highest economic growth rates in the world, emerged as the main gainer in the region, with its Doha bourse, edging up from around $120.4bncto $121.3bn.

Outside the Gulf, turmoil-hit Egypt was another key victim during that period, with its stock market plunging by nearly $14bn from $71.4bn to $57bn.

Morocco, another major equity market outside the Gulf, fell by around $5.5bn from $68.5bn to nearly $63bn, the report showed.

Jordan and Lebanon also contracted from around $30.8bn and $18.2bn to $26.4bn and $16.6bn respectively.

Syria, which is now at the centre of political turbulence in the Middle East, recorded a sharp fall in its market from $3.1bn to $1.8bn.

Tunisia, which is recovering from the Arab World’s first anti-regime uprising, saw its bourse rise from $10.3bn to $10.8bnW.The Palestinian bourse remained unchanged at around $2.7bn despite persistent tensions in the Israeli-occupied territories.

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