Equity Market — A general sense of inertia prevailed on the Beirut bourse during the transitional period between governments. Volume did jump by almost half, however 70 percent of the total was accounted for by Ciments Libanais.
Uncertainty over the make-up of the new cabinet and its head continues to dominate the thoughts of financial markets. Although most betting people would put their money on Rafik Hariri being the new prime minister, investors are taking nothing for granted, not wishing to count out the chances of a surprise pick. International investors took their cue from the local market, marking down Lebanese GDRs (Global Depository Receipts) overall.
Four out of the five listed bank stocks were traded this week, quite an achievement compared to recent times, although their overall turnover was a mere 14,643 shares. Byblos “C” was the only one registering a movement in price, as it lost 12.5 percent to close at $1.75.
Bank of Beirut “C” continued its habitual 1,000-share trade at each session at an unmoved price of $7.563. As usual the stock was heavily demanded, although mostly at just under its fixing price. BEMO, supplied all week, witnessed a one-day trade of 2,982 — the only time demand materialized for the stock.
On the international front, foreign investors are staying underweight in Lebanese bank GDRs, probably awaiting the upcoming nomination of a prime minister and the pointers that would give in relation to economic policy. BLOM GDR edged down 0.65 percent to $23,while Audi’s GDR dropped 2.4 percent to $17.33.
It was yet again a case of separate paths for Solidere’s share classes. Solidere “A” was down 3.3 percent for the week at $7.25, having gone as low as $7.125, while “B” rose 1.7 percent to $7.5. Having hit its nadir on Tuesday, class “A” was in the unusual position of being the subject of some demand, while “B” registered relatively strong demand throughout the week.
As predicted previously, the share prices are range-bound between $7 and $7.5, being contained by the political situation. Should that be decided in favor of Rafik Hariri, Solidere shares are likely to find renewed favor. In the meantime, the company’s GDR fell back 1.1 percent to $6.925.
Ciments Libanais was the only industrial traded, with 87,545 shares changing hands at an unchanged price of $0.406. – (Banque du Liban et d’Outre-Mer)