Gulf markets calm as year end approaches

Experts predict a better 2010 for Middle East region as bourses register marginal gains and falls.
Gulf markets calm as year end approaches
By Rachna Uppal
Wed 30 Dec 2009 07:48 PM

Most Gulf Arab markets ended largely flat on Wednesday, while Dubai's bourse bounced back from the previous day's losses.

The Saudi index ended flat, closing the year 27.5 percent higher, after losses of 56.5 percent in 2008.

In Dubai, construction firm Arabtec ended unchanged after gaining more than 25 percent on speculative buying in three sessions.

Arabtec told the bourse that there was no truth in market rumours that Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investment would take a stake in the company.

Bellwether Emaar Properties ended 2.4 percent higher, and Emirates NBD, the UAE's largest lender by assets, closed 4.8 percent up.

The index ended 1.2 percent higher at 1,810 points.

However, Dubai's stock market is likely to lag its regional peers in 2010 due to an oversupply of real estate projects, abundant debt and generally poor transparency, Beltone Financial said in a report.

Muscat's index also extended gains from the previous session, ending nearly 1 percent higher, buoyed by positive investor sentiment as the year comes to an end.

Renaissance Services rose 2.3 percent and Omantel added 1.2 percent among the bluechips, but gains were apparent across the board.

Banks and investment companies also outperformed the index, with Bank Muscat, the Gulf state's largest lender by market capitalisation, advancing 2.3 percent.

Sayed Qadry, vice president of business development, Amwal Investment, said: "Investors are generally feeling positive at the end of an otherwise forgettable year.

"Next year should be a good year for Oman's market, the stocks are well priced, and the banks should pick up again from mid 2008 levels."

Kuwait's index fell for a third straight session, slipping below the psychologically significant 7,000 mark, as logistics firm Agility led losses, falling 8 percent.

The company said on Monday it was in talks with the US government regarding a settlement in a fraud case, but no deal has been reached yet.

"Last week's gains (in Agility) were a technical bounce," said one Kuwait-based trader.

"There is no investor confidence in Agility."

Other Gulf bourses ended mixed, but largely flat.

Daniel Broby, chief investment officer at London based Silk Invest, said he expected 2010 to be a good year for the Saudi bourse.

"Not only is crude oil 75 percent higher than it was a year ago but the Kingdom continues to show that it is independent of Dubai's fixed income woes," he said. (Reuters)

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