Arab stock markets moved sideways last week as investors monitored steps being taken by European policymakers to come to grips with the euro zone debt crisis, financial analysts said Friday.
Saudi stocks closed week higher as the government of the world's largest exporting country prepared to declare its 2012 budget, while Egyptian shares rebounded strongly on the ruling military council's successful conduction of the first round of general elections, they added.
"I believe regional stocks will be under diminishing pressure from the euro zone debt problem as the attention of investors turns to yearly corporate earnings within the coming couple of weeks," Wajdi Makhamreh, CEO of the Amman-based Noor Investments, told Arab News.
He expected the geopolitics of the standoff over the Iranian nuclear file and the Arab Spring uprisings to continue to have an impact on Middle East markets.
"The movement of oil prices will also have its fallout on regional stock exchanges particularly those of the Gulf countries," Makhamreh said.
Saudi shares scored modest gains last week, led by the petrochemical and banking sectors.
The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) gained 0.3 percent on weekly basis, closing at 6,104.56 points.
Abdullah Baeshen, CEO of the Saudi TeamOne Consulting, expected the Saudi market to remain "steady" in the coming couple of weeks, given the conflicting factors of the euro zone debt crisis, the imminent declaration of the Saudi government budget, oil prices and the regional political situation.
"As far as the euro zone problem is concerned, the signals do not appear positive and I don't think there will be a solution until the start of January," he said.
He expected the government's macroeconomic figures and public spending to boost the Saudi stock exchange.
"There is a chance for Saudi stocks to go up if the benchmark breaks the 6,135-point area," Baeshen said.
Kuwaiti stocks rebounded at the end of the week apparently due to the easing political tension following the resignation of the government as demanded by the opposition.Kuwait's KSE all-share index gained 0.9 percent on weekly basis, closing at 5,835 points.
However, the Kuwaiti benchmark lost 1.82 per cent in November, due to "external and internal factors, mainly the domestic political turmoil", according to a report by Kuwait's Bayan Investment Co.
The benchmarks of the United Arab Emirates stock exchanges of Dubai and Abu Dhabi closed week 2.2 percent and 1.1 percent in the green, respectively at 1,379 points and 2,445 points.Qatar's index gained 1.1 percent last week closing at 8,663 points, while Bahrain's benchmark closed 0.3 percent in the red, at 1,158 points.The all-share index of the Amman Stock Exchange (ASE) shed 1 percent last week, closing at 1,978 points, mainly due the absence of moving factors, analysts said.Egyptian shares were the main gainer in the Middle East last week, reflecting optimism on the part of investors over the success of the polling process, analysts said.Egypt's AGX 30 index, which measures the performance of the market's 30 most active stocks, gained 2.5 percent on weekly basis, closing at 4,088 points.Egyptian analyst Mustafa Adel, CEO of the Tycoon for Investment Management, attributed the Egyptian bourse's gains mainly to "the security stability that emerged during the ballot process and the steep plunge that preceded the elections on fears of violence".
However, he said that foreign investors could be thwarted by reports that Islamists were emerging triumphant in the first round of polls.