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Arab unrest pushes Gulf markets down

KUWAIT CITY, March 2, 2011 – Stock markets in the Gulf states dived on Wednesday as they continued to be affected by fear over unrest sweeping several Arab countries and despite soaring oil prices.

All seven markets fell, led by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Dubai, with Kuwait at at its lowest in more than six years and Dubai Financial Market Index hovering around a seven-year low.

The seven bourses have lost $110 billion in market valuation since the start of the year.

The Saudi Tadawul All-Shares Index, the biggest in the Arab world, fluctuated sharply before closing at 5,323.27 points, 3.9 percent lower for the 13th consecutive session in the red.

TASI, which shed 6.8 percent on Tuesday, has so far slumped 19.6 percent on last year\’s close. In the four trading sessions this week, it dived 15 percent and was trading at a two-year low.

Kuwait Stock Exchange, the second-largest Arab bourse, shed 2.6 percent to finish at 6,157.70 points, the lowest since October 2004.

KSE was also hit by the apparent collapse of a $12-billion deal to sell a stake in market leader Zain telecom, which dropped 5.9 percent.

Since the start of the year, KSE has fallen 11.5 percent.

Qatar Exchange dived 3.6 percent to levels seen about a year ago and has shed 11.8 percent this year.

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Dubai Financial Market Index slumped 3.5 percent to 1,374.43 points, the lowest in seven years. The market was pulled down by a six-percent dive by market leader Emaar properties, the developer of the world\’s tallest tower.

Since the start of the year, Dubai bourse has shed 15.7 percent.

Sister UAE bourse in Abu Dhabi was down 1.9 percent, while Muscat Securities Market lost 1.5 percent and Bahrain Stock Exchange closed one percent lower.

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