Concerns about a possible debt default in the Middle East made investors nervous and weighed on stock and exchange traded fund (ETF) prices this morning. Investors were also concerned about the strength of the holiday shopping season.
Investors continued to fret about the announcement from Dubai World last week, which asked for a six-month repayment freeze on its debt, which totals about $60 billion. The conglomerate Dubai World is a quasi-governmental entity, so investors are worried about a possible sovereign debt default by Dubai itself, whose total debts (including Dubai World) equal about $80 billion.
What is most likely to happen is that Dubai’s neighbors – oil-rich Abu Dhabi and other members of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will most likely bail out Dubai, writes Zachary Karabell for The Wall Street Journal. The Arab countries do not want a sovereign debt default to ruin the reputation of the entire Gulf region. The WisdomTree Middle East Dividend ETF (NASDAQ: GULF) has 31.8% allocated to Qatar and 18.9% allocated to UAE. The ETF has dropped more than 13% during the last two trading days. (For more stories on the Middle East, see our Middle East category).