Amman - Arab markets ended the week with mixed performances, but financial analysts said Friday they expected regional markets to be "indirectly affected" by swine flu.
"We believe that Arab stock markets will be indirectly affected by swine flu, particularly if swift solutions are not found for the disease," Wajdi Makhamreh, chief operating officer at the Amman-based Sanabel International Holding, told the German Press Agency dpa.
"Regional markets have affiliations with countries where swine flu has taken a toll and any developments there will inevitably have an impact on the Arab region," he said.
Makhamreh also said that the performance of Arab bourses was "to some extent a reflection of what was going on in major economies." He added "Arab investors are still influenced by steps taken by the United States and European countries to address the downturn."
"Markets are still dominated by speculative trading with investors preferring not to commit themselves to long-term positions," he said.
Saudi shares ignored swine flu this week and rebounded strongly as stocks received momentum from the banking and petrochemical sectors.
The Tadawul All Share Index (TASI) of the Arab world's largest stock exchange climbed 7.8 per cent this week, closing at 5,625.51 points.
TASI is currently 17.1 per cent higher than at the start of the year, according to the weekly report of the Riyadh-based Bakheet Investment Group (BIG).
Saudi shares were buoyed by the Saudi Arabian Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), which gained 16 per cent this week following heavy losses last week when the conglomerate announced unprecedented losses for the first quarter of the year.
"SABIC's gains this week reflect investors' optimism over the improvement of the company's performance in the coming months, given stable oil prices," the BIG said.
However, the group warned that speculative trading could have "a negative impact on the whole market."
"Therefore, we advise investors to conduct trading on the basis of the financial results of listed firms rather than rumours," BIG said.
Jordanian shares were volatile this week and Makhamreh said that a profit-taking move and first-quarter results of some firms, which came in below expectations, pushed prices down.
The ASE all-share index shed 2.03 per cent this week, closing at 2,737 points, according to the market's weekly report.
Kuwait's KSE all-share price index gained 1.9 per cent this week to close at 7,557 points.
The benchmark price of the United Arab Emirates stock exchange of Dubai fell 2.9 per cent this week, closing at 1,606 points.
Egypt's AGX30 price index, which measures the performance of the market's 30 most active stocks, gained 2.05 per cent on Thursday, closing at 5,191 points. (dpa)