Market Efficiency and Volatility in an Islamic Financial Market Interpreted from a Behavioural Finance Perspective
: A Case Study of the Amman Stock Exchange

  • Heitham Al-Hajieh

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The research undertaken aims to contribute to the debate about market efficiency and market volatility in an Islamic context. The research relates to the Amman Stock Exchange (ASE) and covers the period 1992 to 2007. It undertakes quantitative analysis involving two key elements: first, testing for random walk and calendar anomaly effects in market returns and, second, modelling volatility in market returns.

    The thesis applies a series of standard econometric and statistical techniques to this issue. The key ‘novel’ contributions of this study relate to the focus on Islamic religious holiday effects and also the application of behavioural finance theoretical models to explain the findings in terms of the influence of social mood (mood misattribution) effects. These are approaches that have not been previously applied in the literature within an Islamic context.

    The author argues that the econometric and statistical techniques applied are ‘fit for purpose’. Standard methods are applied; however, these are applied in ‘novel’ ways in parts of the thesis. For example, moving-date calendar effects are modelled for the first time and the modelling of volatility makes use of interaction effects to explore the impact of interactions between different mood-influencing variables.

    The study begins by identifying that the ASE index returns do not follow a Random Walk. It then goes on to identify day-of-the-week effects. First trading day of the week effects found in relation to the first trading day that follows the Muslim holy day of Friday. Monthly calendar effects were also found. January or turn-of-the-year effects were found in the ASE similar to those found previously in some Western markets. However, the largest monthly effects were found in relation to the holy month of Ramadan. Most significantly, Ramadan was found to be the only month where the average daily returns were both statistically different from the other months in the year and also positive. This, it is argued in the thesis, is due to social mood (or mood misattribution) effects.

    The research looks beyond informational efficiency and develops a number of ‘novel’ contributions to research in this area in terms of both the empirical findings and the behavioural finance-related interpretation of these findings, as well as the influence of Islamic ethics in Amman’s stock market returns. The thesis also examines the relationship between seven behavioural mood-proxy variables and stock market returns. Fama (1991) argues that efficiency and volatility are unrelated. In this thesis, however, evidence is uncovered which suggests that this may not be the case. High levels of volatility were found at the start and at the end of the Ramadan holy festival; this volatility, it is argued, is related to social mood. This issue is examined further by exploring previously unstudied interactions between mood-related Ramadan effects and mood-related weather and biorhythmic effects.

    The results of this thesis, the author believes, provide strong evidence for the existence of Muslim religion investment decision biases associated with social mood effects (mood misattribution). It is argued that these social mood effects in the case of Jordan relate mainly to Islamic ethics and cultural issues, as they are found predominantly during the Ramadan religious holiday.

    Despite the existence of decision biases within the ASE, no profitable trading anomaly opportunities were identified. This may be due, in part, to Jordan having high trading transaction costs. It is possible, however, that profitable trading opportunities related to Islamic holidays may exist in countries that follow stricter religious observance. The author believes that there is an opportunity to extend this research to countries such as Bahrain.
    Date of Award2011
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorTimothy Rodgers (Supervisor) & Keith Redhead (Supervisor)

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