Gulf shares slump despite government moves

KUWAIT CITY, November 23, 2008 (AFP) – Most stock markets in the energy-rich Gulf slumped on the week’s opener Sunday as intervention by governments failed to restore sentiment among investors worried by global financial turmoil. Riyadh cut interest rates for the third time in six weeks, slashing the repo rate by one percentage point a day after the Saudi bourse — the region’s largest — sank more than nine percent.

Kuwait and Oman last week set up special funds to buy stocks on the sagging markets while the United Arab Emirates on Saturday announced the start of a process to merge two leading real estate finance firms.

All seven regional markets dropped, with Dubai, Doha and Saudi shares leading the way.

“I think there is much negative sentiment in the Gulf bourses because of the flurry of (bad) news from the international markets,” head of economic research at Kuwait’s Global Investment House, Faisal Hasan, told AFP.

“There was also a contagion effect from the slump of the Saudi market,” on Saturday.

The Saudi bourse is open from Saturday to Wednesday while other Gulf stock exchanges operate from Sunday to Thursday.

The Saudi Tadawul All-Shares Index (TASI), which dived 9.2 percent on the week’s