Syria's stock exchange begins first day of operations

The Syrian capital's long-awaited stock exchange began its first operations in Damascus on Thursday, giving what investors hope will be a much-needed jolt to the country's sluggish economy after decades of socialist-style policies. The fledgling market is due to trade on a tentative trial basis for three weeks before being officially inaugurated in early March. The interim operations of the Damascus Securities Exchange included five large Syrian companies: the International Bank for Trade and Finance, Bank of Syria and Overseas, Arab Bank-Syria, Banque Bemo Saudi-French, and Al-Ahliah Company for Transport. The companies and others that hope to list their stocks have yet to obtain final government approval to trade once the stock market becomes officially operational.