BEIRUT (AFP) – The Beirut stock market has rallied as dealers cheered a ceasefire in Lebanon after a month of Israeli air strikes that have wreaked devastation on the local economy.
Israel’s bombardment has inflicted billions of dollars’ worth of damage on Lebanon and slammed the brakes on a nascent economic revival after 15 years of devastating civil war, experts say.
The benchmark Blom share index rose by 46.26 points or 3.80 percent to 1,262.34 points Monday, according to the Blom Bank website, after the UN-brokered end to hostilities took effect.
The index had plummeted to the lowest level of the year in the aftermath of the start of the Israeli offensive against Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon on July 12 after the Shiite militants captured two Israeli servicemen.
It lost 10 percent in one day alone on July 13 and is still down more than 16 percent from the closing level of 1,506.34 points on July 11, the day before the war began.
The stock exchange closed for two weeks last month after Israeli bombings hit the heart of the capital, most notably the area of the headquarters of the Solidere property firm, the index’s leading heavyweight stock.
The bourse resumed trading on August 1 but with a maximum fluctuation limit of five percent on share trading.
Shares in Solidere, which was founded by assassinated former prime minister Rafik Hariri, rallied almost five percent to close at 16.85 dollars Monday.
Since the end of the 1975-90 civil war Lebanon had spent billions of dollars to get the economy back on its feet but Israeli strikes has destroyed thousands of homes, dozens of bridges and hundreds of kilometers (miles) of roads.
Lebanese authorities warn it will take at least three years to rebuild the shattered infrastructure after at least six billion dollars’ worth of damage.