Iraq Stocks Up 34%

Iraq's stock exchange closed 34% up for the whole of 2011 due to the earliest foreign investors buying into Iraq's growth story.

Undeterred by increasing security and political issues, and housing and power shortages, intrepid foreign buyers bought a net USD110m in shares this year in a market currently valued at $4bn. Next year will bring more of the same.

Sherif Salem, a portfolio manager with Invest AD, an Abu Dhabi investment company, told Reuters: "We are still committed to the Iraqi market." Invest AD has invested around $18m in Iraqi companies in just over a year.

Bartle Bull of Northern Gulf Partners said: "Iraq will be the fastest-growing important economy in the world by far for the next decade, and we expect to see this reflected in the country's public companies."

Banking dominates the exchange of less than 100 companies, but it also features insurance, industry, tourism, agriculture and even a carpet business.

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