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Wed 20 Jan 2010 10:29 AM

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Dubai market in flux over debt uncertainties

UPDATE 9: Final hour rally lifts index, while SABIC rise boosts Saudi index.

A final-hour rally enabled Dubai's index to recoup some of the previous day's losses, but volumes fell to a seven-week low, with late buying seen as largely the work of speculators.

Arabtec climbed 2.6 percent, Emaar Properties rose 1.8 percent and Air Arabia added 1.1 percent. This trio accounted for nearly half of the 100 million shares which changed hands on the index, the lowest total since November 30 and second-lowest of the past 12 months.

"There was a little buying towards the end of the session, but it's too soon to say whether the market is stabilising -- it could be pure speculation," said Ayman el-Saheb, Darahem Financial Brokerage director of operations.

"Volumes are very small -- it's just day traders and speculators active -- today was pretty boring."

The index rose 0.9 percent to 1,677 points, easing away from the previous day's six-week closing low.

Abu Dhabi's index slipped marginally, ending 0.07 percent lower at 2,654 points.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) rose after reporting a 15-fold increase in fourth-quarter profit, lifting Saudi Arabia's index as financial stocks were mixed.

SABIC climbed 0.3 percent, retreating from a 15-month intraday high. On Wednesday, Credit Suisse raised SABIC's price target to 120 riyals from 95 riyals, saying the increase was based on SABIC's "strong results".

Saudi Telecom Co added 0.4 pct after reporting a bigger-than-expected rise in fourth-quarter profit.

Al-Rajhi Bank rose 0.7 percent as investors continued to give a lukewarm reception to its quarterly earnings, which came in below estimates, and proposed dividend.

Banque Saudi Fransi fell 0.9 percent, while SABB added 1.3 percent.

The index rose 0.2 percent to 6,382 points.

Kuwait's index ended higher for a fourth session in five, hitting a three-week high following a mixed performance by banks.

National Bank of Kuwait rose 1.9 percent, clawing back some of the losses from a two-day decline sparked by plans for the lender to raise its capital by 10 percent. Other banks have announced similar moves as Kuwait's lenders deal with rising provisions. Boubyan Bank fell 3.9 percent.

"Investors expect banks to make more capital increases after NBK's announcement and for banks to take further provisions in 2010, so there isn't much interest in Kuwait bank stocks," said Essa al-Hasawi, a dealer at Noor Financial Investment Co in Kuwait.

The index climbed 0.7 percent to 7,062 points, its highest finish since December 27.

Qatar's benchmark ended lower for the first session in three as investors cashed in gains from Commercial Bank of Qatar's 4.8 percent rise the previous day. CBQ fell 1.2 percent. On Tuesday, it reported a 33 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit.

The index dropped 0.1 percent to 6,794 points.

Bahrain's measure fell for a fourth day, slipping 0.1 percent to 1,463 points.

Banks dragged Abu Dhabi's index to a five-week low as concerns over possible provisions weighed on sentiment for the UAE financial sector.

National Bank of Abu Dhabi fell 1.3 percent, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank dropped 2.1 percent and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank slid 1.8 percent.

"There are still big question marks over UAE banks' asset quality and whether/when NPLs (non-performing loans) will begin to come down meaningfully, and therefore reduce provisions," said Richard Frost, head of research sales at Al-Futtaim HC Securities.

The index fell 0.3 percent to 2,649 points, its lowest level since December 14.

Oman's index fell for a fifth session in six in a broad sell-off, slumping to a two-week low as gloomy global sentiment deters buyers.

Oman Telecommunications Co (Omantel) slipped 1.3 percent and Bank Muscat dropped 2.6 percent.

Oman Cables Industry was a major loser, falling 3.7 percent as investors reacted negatively to a slight rise in its full-year profit.

The index fell 0.6 percent to 6,436 points, its lowest close since Jan. 4.

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