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Wed 5 Dec 2007 01:15 AM

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Lebanon shares down 3%

Index retreats from year's high on talk of long-delayed presidential election being postponed again.

Lebanon's BLOM stock index fell 3% on Tuesday, retreating from a year's high on talk of difficulties facing efforts to hold a long-delayed presidential election this week.

The index closed at 1,524.9 points, compared to 1,572.8 on Monday, driven by real estate market heavyweight Solidere whose A share shed 5.1% to close at $23.52 and whose B share fell 5.2% to end the day on $23.36.

Volume stood at $9.7 million, sharply down from Monday's $29.8 million.

"There was negative sentiment in the market after political developments yesterday indicated that the presidential election session would not take place this week," said Maya Ali Hassan of Arab Finance Corporation.

Lebanon had postponed the election for the sixth time to December 7 to give rival politicians more time for talks focusing on the nomination of the army chief General Michel Suleiman as president.

Political sources said on Tuesday the leaders were close to finalising such an agreement with France's foreign minister expected to arrive in Beirut to help seal the deal.

"Solidere remains undervalued and any good news on the political front would push it back up," Ali Hassan said.