Middle East shares tumbled, sending Dubai’s stock index to the lowest level in almost seven years, as political unrest in the region spread to the Sultanate of Oman, prompting investors to trim riskier assets.
Emaar Properties PJSC, builder of the world’s tallest skyscraper, slumped to the lowest since 2009 and Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC retreated 3.2 percent. The DFM General Index slid 3.8 percent to 1,410.7, the lowest since June 2004, at the 2 p.m. close in Dubai, bringing its drop for the month to 8.1 percent. Oman’s MSM30 Index plunged 4.9 percent, the world’s worst performer. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index fell 0.8 percent. It has lost 11 percent since Tunisia’s president fled amid protests that spurred unrest in Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Yemen and Bahrain.
Two demonstrators were killed in Oman and several wounded in clashes with police yesterday, according to hospital and government officials. Hundreds of protesters, many unemployed, gathered for a sit-in for a second day in Sohar, north of the capital city Muscat. Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, the country’s ruler since 1970, ordered the government to hire 50,000 Omanis and to pay 150 rials ($390) a month to registered job seekers.
“Investors are hedging the risk of the crisis spreading further by exiting their positions; negative sentiment is being driven by the uncertainty,” said Mohammed Ali Yasin, chief investment officer at Abu Dhabi-based financial services company CAPM Investments PJSC. “The opening of the Egyptian market tomorrow is expected to cause additional pressure.”
Egypt stock trading is set to resume tomorrow after a suspension of more than a month amid a popular revolution that toppled the 30-year-old regime of former President Hosni Mubarak. The measure lost 16 percent the week ended Jan. 27, when it last traded. The Tunisian bourse suspended trading from today until further notice, the bourse said on its website.
Tunisia was the first nation in the Arab world to see a leader ousted by popular protests on Jan. 14, followed by Egypt this month. Interim Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi resigned yesterday, meeting a main demand of protesters, after security forces killed three people in street demonstrations. Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi has lost control of several cities to the opposition since unrest erupted in the North African nation, the continent’s biggest holder of crude oil reserves.
Egypt GDRs Slump
The turmoil sent crude oil for April delivery up as much as 5.4 percent to $103.41 a barrel on Feb. 24, the highest intraday price since September 2008. The contract rose as much as 2.1 percent to $99.96 a barrel today.
Emaar tumbled 6.3 percent to 2.67 dirhams, the lowest since December 2009. Dubai Islamic, the United Arab Emirates’ biggest lender complying with Islamic banking rules, dropped to 2.09 dirhams, the lowest since Sept. 15. Bank Muscat plunged 8.8 percent, the most since January 2009, to 0.791 rial in Muscat trading.
The global depositary receipts of Orascom Telecom Holding SAE, the country’s largest mobile network operator by subscribers, lost 5 percent to $3.117 at 1:32 p.m. in London trading today, bringing its drop since Jan. 27 to 4.1 percent.
In Saudi Arabia, activists and academics called on King Abdullah to improve political rights and move the country toward a constitutional monarchy. The world’s largest oil supplier is spending more on social and housing programs as popular turmoil roils the Arab world.
Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index retreated 0.2 percent after tumbling 5 percent yesterday and Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index slid 1.5 percent. Bahrain’s BB All Share Index lost 0.4 percent and Qatar’s QE Index decreased 3.2 percent.
In the Levant, Jordan’s Amman SE General Index dropped 1 percent and in North Africa, Morocco’s measure gained 0.2 percent. Kuwait’s bourse was closed for a national holiday.
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