x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Bahrain market rules the day despite protests

Market Wrap: Bahrain's bourse is the best performing market in the Gulf today, despite popular unrest which turned deadly this week.

Protests in Bahrain's streets set its markets heading downwards, but stocks closed in a better shape than any other Gulf market.

Bahrain's All Share index may have closed down 0.24 per cent at 1466.66, but all of its neighbours saw sharper plunges.

The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange General Index closed down 1.2 per cent at 2683.97, while Dubai's index fell 1.3 per cent to 1594.87. Kuwait declined 1.38 per cent to 6559.50 and Qatar's QE Index shed 1.78 per cent to 8821.07. The Saudi Tadawul fell 1.68 per cent to 6494.84. [update at close]

Fadi al Said, a fund manager at ING, said the reason was the dearth of institutional investments in the Bahrain Bourse. Investors fleeing Middle Eastern investments were predominantly leaving other more heavily traded markets like Qatar and the UAE.

"Bahrain is a very closely held market, even on the retail side," he said.

"If you look at the institutional investors there are very few of them who have any exposure to Bahrain."

However, that panic had now left rich pickings in many other Gulf markets less vulnerable to political unrest, he said. "There's a lot of opportunities that might be created by this kind of sell-off."

However, worries over the UAE's property sector also led markets downwards today, with Union Properties declining almost 7 per cent to 33 fils after reporting a loss of Dh1.5bn for 2010, tripling its loss a year earlier.

"It is hard for us to see Union Properties prospects improving over the short term unless significant asset sales can be consummated in 2011", said Chet Riley, an analyst at Nomura in Dubai.

Last November the company announced the sale of the Ritz-Carlton to a private company in Abu Dhabi for Dh1.1bn. Ten months earlier it had announced an asking price of Dh1.5bn.

With markets closed for a public holiday tomorrow, traders said they would position themselves to protect against any surprises over the long weekend.