x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Banks retreat on subdued markets

Banking stocks lead UAE markets lower, and trading remained subdued as many investors remained away for the holidays.

Banking stocks led UAE markets lower yesterday, and trading remained subdued as many investors remained away for the holidays.

"It feels like almost 50 per cent of the people aren't here," said Fadi al Said, a fund manager at ING Investment management in Dubai. "Nobody is around. Those who are here are not willing to take any bets at the year's end."

The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange General Index fell 0.3 per cent to 2,693.89, while the Dubai Financial Market General Index declined 0.9 per cent to 1,603.42.

Trading volumes were sharply down. "Its a seasonal impact. People are on holiday, and when markets are shallow they tend to go down," Mr al Said said. Banking stocks in Abu Dhabi and Dubai led the decline after the Central Bank told lenders to increase provisions up to 80 per cent on their exposure to the Saad and Al Gosaibi groups of Saudi Arabia.

Abu Dhabi-listed banks fell 0.9 per cent, with National Bank of Umm Al Qaiwain (NBQ) experiencing the biggest price drop, 4.5 per cent to Dh1.90.

More than 11 million shares in the usually thinly traded stock changed hands in only 15 transactions.

Dubai-listed banks fell 1.2 per cent, with Emirates NBD falling 4.8 per cent to Dh2.75.

Elsewhere in the region, Kuwait's index rose 0.1 per cent to 6,918.50, Bahrain's lost 0.1 per cent to 1,426.34, Oman's rose 0.5 per cent to 6,753.62, and Qatar's declined 0.1 per cent to 8,720.61.

The Saudi Tadawul All-Share Index slipped 0.3 per cent to 6,588.24.