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Beirut Stock Exchange unrattled by assassination
File - Traders in FFA Private Bank monitor stock prices in Beirut, Monday, April 8, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
File - Traders in FFA Private Bank monitor stock prices in Beirut, Monday, April 8, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
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BEIRUT: The dormant Beirut Stock Exchange reported normal activity Friday, despite the assassination of former Finance Minister Mohammad Shatah that jolted the country.

The BLOM Stock Index (BSI) rose slightly by 0.16 percent to close at 1,147.18 points.

Brokers told The Daily Star that the Beirut bourse had not been performing well this year due to the delicate political situation and fallout from the Syrian war in Lebanon.

They added that the Lebanese had grown accustomed to all manner of security incidents and they parroted many citizens in declaring that “it’s just business as usual.”

“It’s true that the BLOM Stock Index rose slightly today, but the total volume fell sharply during very thin trading,” Tawfik Karam, from FFA Private Bank, told The Daily Star.

According to the BSE, total volume fell by more than 86 percent to 79,346 shares, while total value shrunk by 56.57 percent to reach $1.566 million.

Karam did not expect a dramatic change in the last trading day of the year Monday, stressing that most of the stocks traded were undervalued.

“If you look at the shares of Solidere and the banks, the value of these shares is actually below their true value.”

Solidere A and B shares closed slightly higher Friday at $11 and $11.11 respectively.

Another broker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it seemed that most Lebanese preferred to continue with their daily lives, despite the assassinations and security incidents.

“As long as we don’t have rampant bomb attacks all over Lebanon, then the business community will continue to operate even if the conditions are not normal. But I am confident that once the Lebanese come to their senses, then the Beirut bourse will witness strong and robust activity. All that we need now is stability,” the broker said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 28, 2013, on page 4.
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