Arab stocks advance as jitters over Syria fade

by BLOOMBERG

DUBAI • Stocks across most Arab markets advanced yesterday as the risk of a military showdown between the US and Russia in Syria that would roil the region faded.

Dubai’s main equity gauge climbed the most since July, and 99% of companies in Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul Index rose. Stocks in Abu Dhabi gained as much as 1.3%, sending the benchmark index to the highest level on a closing basis since August 2015.

The US, UK and France attacked targeting military positions and research facilities linked to chemical weapons in Syria over the weekend. While Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah group rallied around Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime, they didn’t threaten any retaliation. Saudi Arabia said it would take part in the US coalition if asked.

Investors have had two days to reflect on the strike, so the operation isn’t a factor that would prompt traders to sell anymore, said Mohammed Ali Yasin, the CEO of FAB Securities in Abu Dhabi. What they’re focused on is company results, he said.

Saudi Arabia’s stocks last Wednesday fell the most since October after US President Donald Trump’s comments on Twitter suggested that strikes against Syria were imminent. Yesterday, Tadawul All Share Index climbed 1.7% as of 12:17pm in Riyadh, the most in a month. Only one of the gauge’s 182 members fell.

Dubai’s DFM General Index added 1.5%, led by Dubai Islamic Bank’s 2.7% advance. Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index rose 1.1%. Stocks in Egypt and Bahrain increased between 0.1% and 0.3%, while Qatar’s gauge lost less than 0.1%.

Nabil Al Rantisi, MD at Daman Investments said: “The United Arab Emirates markets have been very resilient recently. And there doesn’t seem to be room for markets to go down from here. Markets reacted a little bit, but not dramatically. The issues in Syria have been there for a long period of time, and I don’t think there will be a major panic starting now.”