Middle East, North Africa bourses lost $140 bln amid unrest

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ABU DHABI Mar: Stock markets in Middle East and North Africa lost $140 billion in market capitalization during the last five weeks as political unrest sweeping through the region left investors nervous, a report said.

The market capitalization of 16 Arab bourses was valued at $862 billion on March 4, compared with $1.002 billion on January 25, a day prior to the political crisis in Egypt that triggered unrest across the Middle East, said the report from the Arab Monetary Fund on Sunday.

Arab stock markets gained about 9 percent in 2010 with their market capitalization touching $983.8 billion, the report from the Abu Dhabi-based fund said.

"The situation in the region affected sentiments of investors despite some stocks being attractive," an AMF official, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters.

"The situation worldwide also affected investor sentiment and the financial results of most companies in the region were not strong to counter the losses," he said declining to be named. The losses in just over a month are far more than what the markets gained in 2010, he said.

Initial public offerings (IPOs) resumed a slow recovery in the Arab markets with 27 issues in 2010, raising $2.75 billion compared with 17 issues valued at $1.98 billion the previous year, the report said without giving details.

Foreign investors have been net sellers in the Arab stock markets in the first-quarter this year as most shied away in the last few weeks due to the regional turmoil, the report added.


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