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Iranian Stock Market Booms Despite New Sanctions

Traders on the Tehran stock market (file photo)
Tehran's stock exchange index, the TEPIX, hit a record high on July 14, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

The TEPIX closed at 15,080, up half a percentage point.

Paris-based economist Fereidoun Khavand downplayed the significance of the milestone. He told Radio Farda that the Tehran stock market is not an accurate "thermometer" of the health of Iran's economy.

He pointed to the leverage of state-run companies in Iran's stock market, noting that its direction can be manipulated by the ruling elite.

Iran's semiofficial Fars new agency said earlier this week that the stock market's rise is the result of Iranians' response to the "empty drum" of the U.S. and international sanctions.

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad last week took credit for the market's rise.

U.S.-based economist Kamran Dadkhah told Radio Farda on July 12 that the 20 percent rise in the Tehran stock market since the beginning of this year does not indicate the country's economy is strong.

"Even in the U.S., there is no direct relation between a booming stock market and the economy, let alone in a country like Iran, whose government interferes constantly in the economy," Dadkhah said. "The government and the [Islamic] Revolutionary Guards [Corps], which owns a significant part of Iran's economy, can raise share prices [by their intervention]."

Fars reported that the global increase in oil prices has contributed toTehran's stock market rise. But Dadkhah said there has, in fact, been no increase in the price of oil over the past few months.

Dadkhah told Radio Farda that he believes the international sanctions will have a negative impact on Iran's economy. He said that calling the sanctions an "an empty drum" is simply propaganda.