GProgress in the Greek debt negotiations alongside strong US data led to upbeat market sentiment. Better than expected financial results of GCC companies, amid positive news from the global markets, supported rallies in the region’s stock exchanges leading to substantial gains in Kuwait and Dubai bourses. The euro gained against the dollar and yen towards the end of last week as the Greece dilemma seemed closer to a resolution; the pound also gained against the dollar, given the rise in retail sales. Both gold and oil prices were up, with Middle East tensions sending oil prices higher.
Greek troubles and S&P downgrades played havoc last week, causing the rally in Asian markets also to wind down towards end of the week, even as TOPIX and Hong Kong remained near six-month highs. Regional markets were mixed, with Egypt gaining and Saudi closing at a 21-month high yesterday alongside small declines in Qatar and Abu Dhabi exchanges. Among currencies, the euro climbed after the Greek austerity plan received the go-ahead from the Cabinet but dipped on the latest uncertainty about Parliament ratification while the Indian rupee had its worst week since Dec last year. Gold prices continued to decline for a second consecutive week while oil prices spiked to a six-month peak on Thursday given the tensions on Iran.
The week started with a worldwide tumble when China's bourse reopened after a week with a 1.7% drop and Asian market sentiment was influenced by lower earnings. In general, just when you were thinking that the rebound in risky assets seen at the turn of the year is turning sour and the much touted January effect is over, markets recovered and ended the week on a positive note after the release of positive employment data in the US. Regional markets followed the global trend, with Saudi reaching a six-month high though the rally in Egypt was marred by recent riots. Among currencies, the dollar rose while its Asian counterparts gained on strong fund inflows. Oil prices were up last week; gold recorded its biggest one-day loss in over a month on Friday.
With China closed for the New Year, stock markets continued a gradual decline (especially in Europe) which the State of the Union address by Obama and some moderately positive news from Europe (e.g. IFO & PMI) did not stem. US GDP data failed to boost markets while poor show in Europe’s corporate earnings also added to the worries. Regionally, most markets were up - with Egypt riding high on political optimism; volumes in DFM for the week were the highest since mid-June 2011; Saudi markets closed at a 6-month high yesterday. The dollar fell last week as the Greek debt deal dragged on, and led to a rise in gold prices to a 7-week high. Oil prices were up after the announcement of Europe's decision to ban oil imports from Iran, but trimmed gains after the US GDP data were released; IMF meanwhile warned that crude prices could rise by almost 30% if Iran halts its oil exports.
Stock markets reacted positively to China's growth data with ripples around the rest of the world, but after some directionless sessions the week ended on a softer tone in Europe and the US. European spreads came down somewhat but Portugal's 10yr yield reached 13.81%. Among regional markets, ADX fell to a five month low last week, while Saudi Arabian shares gained the most in more than five weeks yesterday, on strong Q4 corporate earnings. Euro fell from a two-week high against the dollar on Friday while emerging market currencies had a much favourable week. Oil prices dropped in spite of the tensions in Iran, on expectations of lower demand and ahead of the outcome of the Greek deal. Gold prices were up 1.7% compared to a week ago, though prices eased on Friday.
Stock markets were generally stable awaiting some news from the usual spate of meetings and "summits" among EU leaders and institutions. The seemingly softer German stance on fiscal discipline lifted European bourses and sovereign spreads, before another round of sovereign downgrades in Europe delivered a blow. Asia’s sentiment was helped by anticipation of a looser monetary stance in China. Regional markets were down, except Egypt which gained largely from Building & Construction and Property sectors. The euro fell further after the recent set of sovereign downgrades in the Eurozone. Oil prices, which rose on Iran’s threat to block the Strait of Hormuz, dropped after EU downgrades brought attention back to the sovereign debt crisis. Gold prices posted gains from last week – but slipped on Fri, after recording a one-month high on Thursday.
Stock markets started the year on a strong note, but then momentum faded for lack of a catalyst. Even the strong US labour data failed to cheer markets, which continue to remain depressed given the distressed Eurozone. Regional markets were mixed: low volumes prevailed even as Qatar hit an 11-month high (at close on Tues) and Saudi markets closed at the highest since Aug 1st yesterday. The dollar hit a 16-month high against the euro; gold recorded its biggest weekly gain in five weeks and Iran tensions drove up oil prices.
Global Stock markets ended the year on a low note - posting their first annual loss since 2008, with emerging markets also closing lower: MSCI’s Asia Pacific Index declined almost 18% in 2011, after closing on a slightly positive note in the last week. Regional markets were hit by lower volumes and liquidity towards the end of the year, with little to cheer given the still ongoing regional turmoil. The euro hit a historic 10-year low against the yen and recorded a 15-month low against the dollar, also closing as the worst performing currency in the year 2011, while the Renminbi was the best performing currency. Commodities had a relatively better year with gold playing its role as a safe haven asset alongside the US Treasuries and the yen.
The Christmas week brought some relief to market tensions, following the euro area‟s pledge to inject EUR 150bn in bilateral loans to the IMF, but especially after ECB lent a massive EUR 489.2bn (19.6% of total assets) to banks at 3-year maturity, and the stellar placement of sovereign debt in Spain. End year squaring and low liquidity however blur the picture. It was a mixed week in the regional markets, with Aldar‟s delisting talks bringing the UAE markets down to multi-year lows, while Saudi Arabia and Qatar closed higher compared to a week ago. In currencies, Sterling registered an 11-month high against the euro and the euro was slightly higher against USD. Oil prices are back up to last week levels, on growing tensions in Iran (tougher US sanctions) and Iraq (domestic political infighting). Gold price is meanwhile marking time waiting for the QE3.
Markets were mostly down from a week ago, as Eurozone sovereign debt fears continue to play out, with ratings downgrades and warnings of potential downgrades by rating agencies. Regionally, the failed MSCI reclassification bid by UAE and Qatar dampened spirits and led to a decline in markets. Downgrade fears and decline in risk appetites led the dollar to its highest level in 11 months, boosting its status as a safe haven. As the dollar stature gained, commodity prices dropped: gold was down to the lowest level in 3 months.