The Beirut Stock Exchange (BSE) closed the Oct. 23 session at 1,572.28 points, as measured by BLOM Bank’s Blom Stock Index. Shares on the BSE had a positive trajectory in October, despite some frightful interludes, when political worries were heightened by the political class’s unbelievable wrangling over ministerial positions and cabinet powers. Notable risers on the BSE were real estate firm Solidere, recording a gain of more than $1 to $26.28 on Oct. 23, just a bit below the stock’s 12-month high. Bank Audi stock appreciated even more and closed at $75.40 on Oct. 23, representing a 22% gain since Oct 1. Overall, the Lebanese share indices have risen to levels that analysts had estimated, after the national elections in June 2009, to be reachable on basis of a successful cabinet formation — but a sharp one-day drop on Oct. 22 due to disappointing political news served as reminder that markets must rely in precarious dependency on improving government stability.
Beirut SE (one month)
The track sheet for stocks on the Amman Stock Exchange (ASE) showed a lot of red in October, more than the ASE index drop of 2.37% to an Oct. 22 close at 2,624.40 points would let on. Curiously, all four sub-indices — for services, industry, banking, and insurance — underperformed the general index, by between 0.7 and 3.7 percentage points. Of the four leading companies by market cap, only The Housing Bank for Trade and Finance recorded a small gain in its share price, up 0.56% in the review period. Jordan Phosphate Mines Co. dropped 0.51%. The largest company on the ASE, however, Arab Bank, gave up 6.14% in valuation and number two player, Arab Potash Co, lost 5.06%. With third-quarter result announcements slow in rolling in, trading volumes on the ASE remained subdued into the third week of October while investors waited for information.
Amman SE (one month)
On the back of three months of fairly steady gains, the Abu Dhabi Exchange weakened in the sessions after Oct. 15 and ended the review period at 3,119.56 points, a tenth of one percent down from the beginning of the month. Construction, energy and real estate were the sectors that had driven index gains intra-month, whereas industry, consumer goods, and insurance underperformed in October. In the end, construction was the best performer, closing the Oct. 22 session 3.95% up on the month. Telecommunications operator Etisalat was a star of the earnings season, posting a 5% gain to $613.7 million for Q3 2009. As leading banks were also projected to bring decent results to the table, the contrast in expectations for the real estate majors, Aldar and Sorouh, became neuralgic points. Analysts anticipated year-on-year profit contractions of 65% or more for the two companies and shares of both moved lower after Oct. 15, an upwards revised target price for Aldar and the impending inaugural Formula 1 race on Yas Island not withstanding.
Abu Dhabi SM (one month)
Where Abu Dhabi goes, Dubai follows suit. Like the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) and Doha Securities Market (DSM), the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) index pattern sloped downward in the latter part of October. However, the DFM closed at 2,244.03 points on Oct. 22 with enough oomph for a 2.4% gain on the month, runner-up in the GCC after the Saudi market. Telco Du, expecting to double profits, gained 16.98% in its share price during the review period; the telecoms index on the DFM advanced 16.98%, making it the period’s best performing sector. Emaar Properties was not the strongest gainer on the DFM — that was Haji travel specialist Firdous Holding with a 90.7% gain — but clearly the most important one. Posting a third-quarter net profit of $178.3 million, Emaar made a different impression from its losses in the second quarter of 2009, beating analyst estimates by a mile. Emaar’s share closed the Oct. 22 session up 13.8% on the month — interestingly, the stock’s price climbed most vigorously up until about a week before the company announced its good earnings.
Dubai FM (one month)
Losers outnumbered gainers in a sober October trading period that saw the Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) general index close at 7,607.90 points on Oct 22, down 2.7% from the start of the month. The quarterly earnings season did not spur obvious buying interest in any field, as all major sector indices moved lower. Insurance, which had seen above average downward pressure in 2009 until September, moved up 1.3%, making it the month’s best performing sector index on the KSE. The country’s strongest bank, National Bank of Kuwait, beat expectations with third-quarter result of $263 million, 10% higher than in the same quarter a year ago. Zain, the telecommunications group that is the market cap leader on the KSE, was making further news as negotiations moved forward over a sale of a 46% stake to a consortium of Malaysian and Indian investors.
Kuwait SE (one month)
Oil is up 15% in the first 20 days of October and 99% since the start of 2009, with the Saudi stock market dutifully shifted into gaining mode — but ever so mildly. In the review period from Oct. 1 to 22, the Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) added 3.1% to close at 6,515.81 points. Owing to this gain, which was the strongest for any GCC bourse in the review period, the TASI is up 35.7% since Jan. 1 and the Saudi Stock Exchange is almost on par with the Dubai Financial Market in terms of year-to-date performance. Insurance showed the strongest price movements, accounting for three of the four top gainers and for the biggest loser. Also notable were petrochemicals firms, among gainers, and manufacturers Saudi Cable and Arabian Pipes, on the downside, as was agro-industry company Anaam, whose share has appreciated 73% to Oct. 22 from the start of September.
Saudi Arabia SE (one month)
The general index for the Muscat Securities Market (MSM) fared only marginally better than its peer in Bahrain, as the MSM closed the Oct. 22 session at 6,609.45 points, or 0.6% up when compared with the last close in September. However, the MSM has an overall growth cushion for 2009 of 21.5% at this time, rather comfortable and better than the GCC average. The banking sector, closing the period 1.8% higher, performed slightly better than the general index, whereas the industrial index shed 2.3%. Among the market’s larger companies, Galfar Engineering showed a notable performance with a 9.4% gain during the review period. Smaller companies — Gulf Mushrooms Co. and The National Detergent Co. at the top and the Oman Chemicals Co. at the bottom — provided the market’s largest share price gains and losses, respectively. Bank Muscat, the country’s top bank by market cap, posted lower profits for both the third quarter and the first nine months of 2009 when compared with the same periods in 2008.
Muscat SM (one month)
Bahraini stocks continued to be under-appreciated in October as the Bahrain Stock Exchange (BSE) index closed the Oct. 22 session at 1,558.21 points, only 0.2% up from the end of September and still in the doldrums in relation to the start of 2009, compared to which the market was down 13.6% at the end of the review period. While the index for the services industry made gains of almost 6%, the investment sector index pulled in the opposite direction with a drop of 5.7% in its sector index. National Bank of Bahrain, which announced a 19.6% year-on-year improved net profit of $30.2 million for Q3 2009, and Bahraini Saudi Bank, were the best gainers in October to date, each moving about 14% higher in their share prices. Kuwait’s BSE cross-listed Global Investment House saw its share price tank 32.4%, followed by Al Baraka Bank with a drop of 17.6%.
Bahrain SE (one month)
The Doha Securities Market (DSM) closed at 7,285.14 points on Oct. 22 with a 1.7% drop versus the last close in September, as buying sentiment dropped in the course of October after having pushed the DSM index more than 700 points higher between Aug. 20 and the end of September. On Oct. 6, reaching 7,624 points, the index had been at its highest since Oct. 22 of last year. All sectors saw volatility in October trading but in the end a sudden push upward let the insurance index come out on top with a gain of 5.9% for the review period, followed by industry with a 0.5% rise. Banking and services ended 2.4% and 1.8% lower, respectively. Two heavyweights, Industries Qatar and Qatar National Bank, posted drops in their Q3 profits of 54% and 7.5%, respectively, but saw price gains in the review period. By contrast, it was the bourse’s third-largest player, Ezdan Real Estate, whose shares nosedived with a 14.7% fall. The real estate company, whose stock had rallied in two wild dashes in August and September, posted a 40% drop in net profit.
Doha SM (one month)
The Tunindex for the Tunisian Exchange closed the Oct. 23 session at 4,082.08 points, recording a 110-point drop from a new year high over two trading sessions. The index had rallied for much of the first 10 months in 2009, its year-to-date gain of 41.25% making it the MENA region’s number two performer, bested only by the gains seen on the Egyptian bourse. Tunisair increased 22.1% in the review period as the market’s top gainer. Market cap leader Poulina Group Holding dropped 3.3%. A new market entrant, cement maker Les Ciments de Bizerte, started trading on Oct. 21 and reinsurance company Tunis Re let it be known that it plans for an initial public offering before the end of 2009.
Tunis SE (one month)
The Casablanca Stock Exchange was a case of trading sideways in October, closing 0.6% higher at 10,830.43 points when compared with the start of the month. Its performance for the year to date has been similarly mellow, with a drop of 0.84% since the start of 2009. All regional bourses in MENA are participating in the global financial markets game, but not all are equally affected by the questions that generally stir the minds of global investors these days. Are banking stocks gaining too much too fast? Is the real economy’s recovery substantial enough to warrant growth of financial markets? These are burning questions elsewhere. In Morocco, main issues of concern relate to increasing the Casablanca exchange’s efficiency and give investors improved transparency. To this end, market authorities announced that a new index of selected liquid securities will be introduced next January.
Casablanca SE (one month)
Egypt CASE (one month)
TheEgyptian Exchange (EGX) 30 Index closed up 5.03% at 7,101.70 points onOct. 22 when compared with the end of September. As the market had notseen these levels since share prices had crashed through the entire7,000-point range in September of 2008, pundits immediately startedtheorizing of “psychologically important” index lines. The indexreading for the Oct. 22 close has the aura of a pretty number,regardless, and what made it ever more impressive was the exchange’syear-to-date climb of 54.5%. Orascom Construction, the market capleader, gained 15.4% in the review period, putting it in a club of 20stocks that appreciated by more than 10% in this short time. Notably,well-known names representing a wide spectrum of sectors dominated inthis stratum of sought-after shares, including EFG-Hermes, OrascomTelecom, Talaat Moustafa, Abu Qir and SODIC.