Lebanon’s market almost reached all-time low
The BLOM Stock Index (BSI) approached its all-time low this week, but managed to avoid actually reaching it, as Solidere again weighed on the market. The BSI finally ended the week at 568.72, some 4 points above its historic low.
Bourse turnover continued to be quite thin, totaling only 48,697 this week, including the lowest daily volume recorded since the stock exchange reopened for business 5 years ago, 500 shares on Tuesday, January 9.
Investors have been distracted by the more varied attractions of US equity markets, where expectations of a further rates cut persist. In the meantime, the local equity scene is perhaps awaiting a more conducive investment climate before players start coming off the sidelines in numbers. The GDR market was enlivened by quite strong demand for BLOM, while the same could not be said for Solidere.
Both Solidere share classes witnessed fluctuations. Class “A” actually rose at the start of the week before retreating to an intra-week low of $6.25 then closing at $6.375,level with a week earlier. Volume on Solidere “A” totaled 33,826, or 69.5 percent of total bourse turnover. Solidere “B”, on the other hand, ended the week 6.9 percent down as it headed back below $7 to close at $6.75. Sentiment towards Lebanon’s largest company is somewhat subdued at present until such time signs of improvement in its fortunes become more clearly visible. Foreign investors continued to display their lack of patience with Solidere, as well as with the regional peace process, as the company’s GDR fell 2.9 percent to $5.775.
Banking activity was relatively modest this week with only two banks traded on the bourse at a time when banks’ reporting season kicked-off. Bank of Beirut was the first to release its unaudited results for 2000, reporting a 6 percent increase in profits but without having any impact on the price as it stayed steady at $7.563 on volume of only 1,980 shares. Byblos “C” was the only other stock traded on the bourse, as 2,150 shares changed hands at an unmoved price of $1.75.
On the international front, BLC GDRs slipped 0.39 percent to close at $6.35,while BLOM recovered from recent falls, jumping 5.98 percent to $21.7 as demand for the GDR kicked-in. BLOM is expected to report solid 2000 earnings in contrast to much of the banking sector.— ( Banque du Liban et d'Outre-Mer Sal )
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)