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Wed 4 May 2011 04:03 PM

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Bahrain bourse sees 77% decline in trade amid unrest

Assets of Bahrain's offshore banks also fell 10 percent during the kingdom's political unrest

Bahrain bourse sees 77% decline in trade amid unrest
Central bank figures showed the value of share transactions fell from BD14.7 m ($39m) in January to BD3.4m ($8.93m) in March

The value of shares traded on the Bahrain bourse plunged 77 percent between January and March as widespread civil unrest in the Gulf kingdom hit investor sentiment, data showed Wednesday.

Central bank figures showed the value of transactions fell from BD14.7 m ($39m) in January to BD3.4m ($8.93m) in March, as the kingdom moved to quell pro-reform demonstrations.

Assets of Bahrain's offshore banks fell 10 percent to $134.9bn during March, marking their lowest levels since 2005, though domestic assets and assets of local retail banks remained stable.

At least 13 protesters and four policemen were killed and hundreds injured in clashes during protests that gripped the country for weeks in February and March.

Bahrain's government declared martial law and invited Gulf troops into the country to help quell the unrest in a crackdown on a protester camp near Manama's financial district on March 16.

Four activists were sentenced to death last week for the killing of two policemen, while a further three were handed life sentences.

Central bank data showed the volume of transactions tumbled from 51,524 in January to 16,774 in March, a drop of 67 percent.

Analysts have warned that Bahrain, home to one of the oldest financial centres in the region, could already have lost its edge as political instability deters foreign firms.

“Bahrain probably has lost out in the competition, or has lost its status as a financial centre to Dubai,” Brad Bourland, chief economist at Jadwa Investment, said in an interview April 28.

“I think Bahrain has some longer term losses from the turmoil that Dubai…is a clear beneficiary of.  The Dubai story is now much more compelling than the Bahrain story.”

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