Arab stock markets closed mixed last week as investors appraised the annual results of listed firms and the fallout on regional bourses of the Iran-West showdown and Arab uprisings, financial analysts said Friday.
They expected Middle East markets to make benefit from any successful steps to be taken by European policy makers to handle the euro zone sovereign debt crisis which played havoc with regional markets over the past few months.
“I believe investors are monitoring annual earnings and dividend distributions to decide their portfolios for the coming period,” Nizar Taher, chief of brokerage at the Jordan Ahli Bank, told Arab News.
“Regional markets are also interested in seeing European policy makers adopt effective measures to bring the sovereign debt ordeal under control,” he said.
Taher expected the row between Iran and western powers over Tehran’s threats to close the strategic Hormuz straits would continue to have a negative impact on regional markets particularly in the oil-rich Gulf states.
Saudi shares suffered last week after the Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC), the top Middle East petrochemical conglomerate, released lower-than-expected profits for 2011, analysts said.
The Tadawul All Share Index (TASI) lost 1.7 percent on weekly basis, closing at 6,377.99 points.
“The market is showing unjustified concerns toward annual earnings of leading firms,” Saudi analyst Rashid Fawzan said.
“I believe the expectations were very high. Nevertheless, SABIC has posted record profits last year,” he added.
Fawzan believed that a 10-percent drop in the conglomerate’s fourth quarter earnings, to $1.4 billion, was behind the downbeat sentiment that dominated the Saudi market on Tuesday and Wednesday.
SABIC’s chief Mohammad Al-Mady attributed the retreat of the fourth quarter profits mainly to the drop of the petrochemical prices, which he blamed on the euro zone crisis and the gloomy predictions of the world economic recovery that put downward pressure on demand.
Fawzan expected the Saudi stock market to get a boost from the annual earnings of more leading firms, foremost banks.
Kuwaiti stocks scored gains last week ahead of the publication of yearly results by the banking sector and the Feb. 2 early elections, analysts said.
Kuwait’s KSE all-share index rose 0.9 percent on weekly basis, closing at 5,798 points.
United Arab Emirates shares lost ground last week due to disappointing fourth quarter results, analysts said.
The all-share index of the Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange fell 1 per cent, closing at 2,337 points while Dubai’s benchmark closed week unchanged at 1,328 points.
Qatar’s index plunged 2.7 percent last week closing at 8,462 points, while Bahrain’s benchmark gained 0.8 per cent, closing at 1,142 points.
Jordanian shares lost fresh ground last week as traders protested lack of action on the part of the new chief of the Jordan Securities Commission (JSC), Mohammad Tash, to reactivate the beleaguered stock market, analysts said.
The all-share index of the Amman Stock Exchange (ASE) shed 0.8 percent last week, to close at 1,939 points.
Egyptian stocks rebounded last week, buoyed by foreign buying, due to the improving political climate in the country after the election of a Parliament, analysts said.
Egypt’s AGX 30 index, which measures the performance of the market’s 30 most active stocks, climbed 2.4 percent on weekly basis, to close at 3,868 points.