x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Exchanges run with the bulls again

For the past few years, the baleful mutter of "mafi liquidity" was frequently heard on the floors of the UAE's exchanges as traders bemoaned the lack of activity on local bourses.

For the past few years, the baleful mutter of lack of liquidity was frequently heard on the floors of the UAE's exchanges as traders bemoaned the inactivity on local bourses.

It was a far cry from the frenzied clamour of the years before the financial crisis, brokers say.

But so far this year, average daily trading values on both the Dubai and Abu Dhabi exchanges are double their average during each of the past two years.

Western investors who haven't touched risky frontier markets in years were now looking with fresh eyes at the UAE because of solid returns already seen in developed markets this year, said Peter Gotke, the vice president and regional head of depositary receipts at BNY Mellon.

"There's more inclination from institutional investors to get back into emerging and frontier markets as well. We're seeing investors with prior knowledge of the region but haven't invested for two to three years."

The Dubai Financial Market General Index and Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange entered bull markets this month, defined as an increase of 20 per cent or more during a given period.

The inclusion of the UAE in indexes such as Russell Investments' Emerging Markets index has put the UAE on the map of many large US-based fund managers, said Salah Chamma, the co-head of equities at Franklin Templeton Middle East.

Rival index provider FTSE previously upgraded the UAE to an emerging market in 2010, but the Emirates retains "frontier" status for Standard & Poor's and MSCI, the latter representing the most widely-tracked benchmark.

Meanwhile, a slew of new regulations have helped to bolster liquidity, including laws for market making, securities borrowing and lending, short-selling and liquidity providers, which were approved late last year.

"The investor relations community has grown up in the last two to three years," Mr Gotke said. Prior to the crisis, "share prices went up and people didn't pay attention as to why."

 

ghunter@thenational.ae