Stock markets in the Gulf region closed lower today as they followed global markets which plunged on fears of a deep global recession. The drops came amidst mounting fears that the US president-elect Barack Obama is inheriting an economy sinking deeper into recession. In the Gulf, the decline was led by the two bourses in the UAE as world oil prices continued to fall. The Dubai Financial Market plunged 4.1 per cent to close at 2,797.60 points, its lowest level since early 2004. The DFM Index ended the week down almost five per cent and has shed 52.8 per cent on the year, the worst performance in the Gulf. The DFM was dragged down by the market leader, property giant Emaar, which dived seven per cent to below Dh5 (US$1.36) per share, the lowest level in almost four years. The real estate sector as a whole dipped 6.3 per cent and telecoms shed 5.1 per cent. The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, finished down 3.3 per cent as the key real estate sector shed 5.3 per cent and banks lost 3.7 per cent. The ADX index ended the week almost unchanged. Kuwait Stock Exchange, the second biggest Arab bourse, dropped 1.1 percent to 9,674.80 points despite a new government plan to help investment firms which have been struggling to pay their debt estimated at $20bn. The KSE Index finished the week down 1.16 per cent. The Doha Securities Market closed down one percent at 7,406.27 points but ended the week up a healthy 6.9 per cent. The small Muscat Securities Market dropped 1.66 per cent and the Bahrain Stock Market lost just 0.33 per cent. The Saudi stock market, the biggest in the Arab world, is closed on Thursday. It ended trading yesterday up 10 per cent on the week but was down 45 per cent since the start of the year. Earlier today, European stock markets traded sharply lower following overnight losses in Asia, as investors fretted about the global economy ahead of expected interest rate reductions later from the European Central Bank and the Bank of England. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down four per cent.
Europe's losses echoed those seen on Wall Street yesterday and in Asia overnight. AFP and AP