In the Middle East, equities sink while bonds rise

Mixed-chartLow oil prices made life hard for investors in Middle Eastern equities last year, with the main regional equity index from index provider S&P falling more than 14%. Bond investors had cause to celebrate, however, as the firm's regional bond and sukuk indices each delivered a positive return over the course of the year. Some of the region's smaller equity markets were the best performers in 2015. The equity markets in Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon all gained during the year, however their effect on the regional index was small. In contrast, large markets such as Egypt and Turkey experienced significant volatility. "Such volatility takes its toll, and both complete the year down - by over a quarter," says Tim Edwards, senior director, index investment strategy at S&P Dow Jones. As well as the fall in oil and gas prices, Edwards identified the war in Syria, uncertainty in Turkish politics and the nuclear deal with Iran as having influenced MENA equity markets. Of the negative 14.4% return of the firm's main regional equity index, the S&P Pan Arab Composite LargeMidCap, Edwards says: "Small comfort could be found in the fact that the broader S&P Emerging BMI fared similarly, with international investors reacting to central bank actions across the globe and reducing exposure to developing and frontier markets." ©2016 funds global mena

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