(MENAFN - Arab News) Arab stock markets closed lower last week as investors focused attention on fourth quarter results and steps being taken by European policymakers to come to grips with the euro zone debt ordeal, financial analysts said Friday.
They expected regional equities to come under additional pressure from political turmoil of by the Arab Spring developments and the standoff over Iran's nuclear file.
"I believe investors will be now turning their attention to the fourth quarter results," Nizar Taher, chief of brokerage at the Jordan Ahli Bank, told Arab News.
"At the same time, Arab markets will continue to come under pressure from the euro zone sovereign debt crisis, reports about the world economic recovery and regional geopolitics," he said.
Taher said that regional stock markets, particularly in the Gulf area, stood to gain from high oil prices which lead to larger surplus petrodollars and lavish spending by respective governments.
Saudi stocks were volatile last week as investors evaluated domestic and foreign factors with particular emphasis on annual earnings of listed firms.
The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) shed 0.2 percent on weekly basis, to close at 6,238.87 points.
The Riyadh-based analyst Yousuf Qusantini believed that investors in the Saudi equity market were in the short term under the "negative psychological impact" of the European debt debacle and plunges on the global markets.
"However, in the medium term we have positive factors operating in the Saudi market which will push stocks upward," he said.
Among these factors he cited oil prices over 100 a barrel, which he said would have a "positive impact on public spending".
Besides, the Saudi financial authorities are mulling to allow foreign funds to trade Saudi stocks.
"In case this step is adopted, the foreign buying of Saudi stocks will create fresh demand and encourage Saudi investors to enhance their holdings of Saudi stocks," Qusantini said.
Kuwaiti stocks lost ground last week under the impact of political developments in the country, analysts said.
Kuwait's KSE all-share index lost 0.7 percent on weekly basis, closing at 5,823 points.
Kuwaiti analyst Adnan Dulaimi attributed the decline mainly to "the political mobility" in the country that led to formation of a new government and the dissolution of the parliament.
The benchmarks of the United Arab Emirates stock exchanges of Dubai and Abu Dhabi closed week 1.2 percent in the red, mainly due to foreign selling, to close respectively at 1,367 points and 2,413 points.
Qatar's index shed 0.6 per cent last week, closing at 8,753 points while Bahrain's benchmark inched higher closing at 1,159 points from 1,158 last week.
Jordanian stocks recovered a bit last week apparently in response to a move by the government to send key corruption files to court.
However, Taher said that Jordanian shares were being adversely affected by the Syrian revolt.
The all-share index of the Amman Stock Exchange (ASE) gained 0.8 percent last week, closing at 1,996 points.
Egyptian stocks lost fresh ground last week ahead of the second round of general elections as investors harbored concerns that the polls could boost the chances of Islamic parties, analysts said.
Egypt's AGX 30 index, which measures the performance of the market's most active stocks, fell 1.6 per cent on weekly basis, to close at 3,918 points.