Riyad September 26 2022: Saudi stocks are set to become the first in the Gulf region to enter a bear market as a plunge in oil prices sours sentiment after nearly two years of outperformance.
The Tadawul All Share Index fell 1.3% at 2 p.m. in Riyadh and is now down 20% from its May high. A close at the current level would confirm a technical bear market.
Saudi stocks join peers in the US and Europe in reaching the unwanted milestone as investors grow concerned that the global economy is headed for a downturn, hampering demand for oil, the kingdom’s primary export. Until May, the country’s equities had been perceived as a haven in emerging markets, boosted by elevated energy prices and government initiatives to diversify the economy.
Growth worries and a degree of global portfolio contagion for high net worth local investors are hurting performance, according to Hasnain Malik, a strategist at Tellimer in Dubai. “For a while, along with the rest of the world, the Tadawul may take its cue from the US Fed more than anything more local,” he said.
With a drop of 2% this year, the Tadawul is still outperforming MSCI Inc.’s benchmark of emerging markets, which is down 28%. Saudi shares trade at a 36% premium to developing nation peers, above the average of 23% for the past decade. At the same time, the Tadawul’s 14-day relative strength index has slipped into oversold territory, typically an indicator of an imminent bounce.