This paper investigates the presence of asymmetric relationship between oil price movements and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) stock markets. We propose the implementation of nonlinear vector smooth transition regression (VSTR) models which offer a greater flexibility when modelling the possible asymmetric reaction in equities. Contrary to conventional wisdom, our empirical results reveal that GCC stock markets do not have similar sensitivities to oil price changes. We document that oil price changes have asymmetric effects on stock returns in some GCC countries, but not for others. More specifically, we find four out of six GCC stock markets that are more sensitive to large oil deviations than to small ones. Our results highlight the importance of economic stabilization and reform policies that can potentially reduce the sensitivity of stock returns to oil price changes, especially with regard to the existence of asymmetric behavior.
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