The payment of Lebanon’s $32.6 million share of the annual funding for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon boosted activity on the Beirut Stock Exchange (BSE) in the latter part of November. The BLOM Stock Index (BSI) climbed by more than 4% during the period to 1,224 points, before retreating to 1,189 points by the end of the fourth week (December 12-16). Hence, the BSI advanced 1.2% from its previous close on November 18, with total losses in 2011 at 19.39%. The daily average volume per month rose more than seven-fold to 513,173 shares, up from 69,186 shares in the preceding four-week period, due largely to 6.8 million shares in Byblos’s common stock being traded on 16 December.
On the regional front, the BSI managed to outperform both the MSCI Emerging Market Index and the S&P Pan Arab Composite LargeMid Cap index. The former fell between November 18 and December 16 by 6.5% to 897 points, reflecting fears over the European debt crisis and signs of economic slowdown in China and South Korea. The S&P index followed suit, retreating 1% to 106 points.
Most banking stocks ended the four week-period in the red, affected by Moody’s Investors Service Outlook‘s downgrade for local banks to ‘negative’ from ‘stable.’ In fact, BLOM’s global depositary receipts lost 2.5% and BEMO common stock retreated by 4.9% to $7.70 and $2.35 respectively. Bank of Beirut stocks followed suit as its common stock declined by 1.3% to $19.20, while its preferred Class D lost 0.4% to $26. Bank Audi stocks also drew back, with its GDR losing 2.3% to $6.29. Its listed stock fell 2.2% to $5.85 and its preferred Class D decreased by 0.5% to $10.30. Byblos common stock was the sole gainer among banking stocks, rising 3% to settle at $1.65.
Solidere stocks A and B, which accounted for around 42% of total value traded, rallied during the first three weeks to hit $16, their highest level since mid-August 2011, before closing at $14.5 each on December 16 with a monthly increase of 6% and 7.5%, respectively.
Within the manufacturing sector, Holcim stock grew 1.5% to $16.15, whereas Ciment Blancs Nominal Class witnessed a single trade of 2,496 shares, lifting its price by 40% to $2.41, its highest level since inception.