The Bahrain Bourse outperformed its GCC peers in March, with the All Share Index recording the region’s biggest monthly gain of 1.9 per cent to close at 2,042.67 points.

Sector performance was mixed, with four out of seven indices advancing, shows analysis by Kuwait-based Kamco Invest.

The materials index led the gains, surging 6.1pc last month. This rise was primarily driven by Alba, the sole constituent of the index, which mirrored the index’s growth.

The communications services index followed closely with a 3.3pc gain, finishing the month at 2,658.3 points.

The industrials index also climbed 2.1pc during the period, bolstered by a 9.9pc increase in the share price of Bahrain Ship Repairing and Engineering Company.

Looking at individual stock performance, Arab Insurance Group topped the gainers’ chart with a remarkable 26.7pc surge in its share price in March.

GFH Financial Group and Bahrain Islamic Bank followed suit with respective gains of 23.3pc and 10pc. Conversely, Nass Corp led the decliners with a 9.9pc share price drop, while Bahrain Duty Free Shop Complex and Seef Properties witnessed declines of 6.9pc and 3.3pc, respectively.

Trading activity also saw a significant uptick in March. Total traded volume surged three and a half times to 100.9 million shares compared to 28.4m shares traded in February.

Similarly, total value traded jumped 62.8pc to BD23.2m in March, up from BD14.2m in February. GFH Financial Group dominated the volume chart with 284.7m shares traded, followed by Arab Insurance Group and Al-Salam Bank Bahrain at 30.5m and 5.7m shares, respectively.

In terms of value traded, GFH Financial Group maintained its lead with BD71.3m worth of shares traded, followed by Arab Insurance Group (BD30.5m) and Alba (BD2.6m).

In separate news, Fitch Ratings affirmed Bahrain’s long-term foreign currency issuer default rating at ‘B+’ with a stable outlook.

The agency acknowledged the kingdom’s robust fundamentals supported by backing from GCC states and strong human development indicators. However, Fitch also pointed to ongoing challenges such as high dependence on oil revenue, weak public finances, and low foreign currency reserves that constrain the rating. Fitch anticipates Bahrain’s 2024 budget deficit to widen to 8.2pc of GDP compared to 7.8pc in 2023, fuelled by a projected 2pc contraction in oil revenues in 2024 and 2025 based on an assumed Brent oil price of $80 per barrel.

On the economic front, Bahrain’s monthly exports rose by 17pc to BD336m in February 2024 compared to BD287m in February 2023. Conversely, the kingdom’s monthly import value increased by 9pc to BD475m in February 2024, up from BD435m in the same period last year.

Meanwhile, equity markets across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) underperformed a global rally in March, with most indices dipping into low single-digit losses.

The MSCI GCC index shed 3pc during the month, pressured by seasonal selling during Ramadan as investors booked profits after strong gains in February.

Qatar led the declines with a 6pc drop, followed by Saudi Arabia (down 1.8pc) and Kuwait and Dubai (both down 1.5pc). Notably, these were the region’s top performers in February.

Looking at the first quarter (Q1) of 2024, the MSCI GCC index managed a marginal gain of 0.2pc. February’s advances were largely offset by losses in March and April.

Kuwait retained the top spot for Q1 gains (up 7.5pc), followed by Dubai (4.6pc) and Saudi Arabia (3.6pc). Conversely, Qatar’s DSM index suffered the steepest decline (down 9.1pc), with Abu Dhabi’s General Index also falling 3.7pc in Q1.

The monthly decline was mirrored by a drop in large-cap sectors like telecoms, banks, and energy, all down by low single digits. The worst performing sector was pharmaceuticals and biotech, which plunged 9.6pc. Hotels and leisure followed with an 8.1pc decline. Telecoms and banks fell 3.5pc and 3.3pc, respectively.

On the bright side, the utilities sector bucked the trend with a healthy gain of 7.1pc. Insurance and diversified financials also saw positive movement, rising 6.8pc and 6.3pc, respectively.


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