Arab bourses mixed ahead of the Muslim fasting month

Arab stock market reflected a mixed performance this week and financial analysts said Friday they expected regional shares to remain volatile ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which is due to start on September 1 or 2.

"We think markets will remain volatile in the coming weeks in the absence of moving factors and the advent of month of Ramadan," Nizar Taher, head of brokerage at the Jordan Ahli Bank told Deutshce Presse-Agentur dpa.

"The retreat of regional markets over the past few weeks had also something to do with volatile oil prices and a spate of speculation that played havoc with Arab bourses," he said.

With the exception of the Saudi stock exchange, almost all Arab bourses lost ground this week, led by the Amman Stock Exchange (ASE) which plummeted throughout the week's trading sessions.

Saudi shares kept up their recovery this week, led by blue chip firms, particularly the sectors of petrochemicals, telecommunications and information technology.

The Tadawul All Share Index (TASI) of the Arab world's largest bourse gained 3.4 per cent this week, closing at 8,463.7 points.

TASI is currently 23.3 per cent lower than the year's start, according to the weekly report of the Riyadh-based Bakheet Investment Group (BIG).

"The Saudi stock exchange is expected to continue its recovery in the coming days as investors make benefit from the attractive low prices of blue chips," the report said.

Jordanian shares plunged dramatically this week under the pressure of a sell-off panic triggered by rumours that foreign funds were selling their holdings of Jordanian leading shares, notably the Arab Potash Co., the Jordan Phosphate Mines Co. and the Jordan Petroleum Refinerty.

The rumours were denied by both the authorities and the concerned firms and analysts said they expected Jordanian stocks to rebound strongly when the market resumes trading on Sunday.

The all-share price index of the Jordanian stock exchange plummeted 8.9 per cent this week, closing at 4,040 points from 4,439 points last week, according to the ASE weekly report.

Kuwaiti shares closed week marginally lower amid a wave of speculation that targeted leading stocks, analysts said.

The KSE all-share price index closed week marginally lower at 14,588 points from 14,616 points last week.

The United Arab Emirates also extended losses this week amid mounting concerns on Iran's standoff with the West over Tehran's nuclear programme and the retreat of Asian stock markets.

The benchmark price of the UAE stock exchanges of Dubai and Abu Dhabi shed 2.1 per cent, to close week at 5,417 points compared with last week's close at 5,531 points.

Egyptian stocks recovered on Thursday amid reports of intensive foreign buying, analysts said.

However, the market's CASE 30 index, which measures the performance of the most active 30 Egyptian firms, declined 2.9 per cent this week, closing at 7,983 points from 8,223 points last week.

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