x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Osama bin Laden killing puts brake on commodities rise

Local bourses end unchanged as US President Barack Obama announces the death of Osama bin Laden

The runaway commodities train finally slowed today after the killing of Osama bin Laden sparked renewed interest in riskier ventures for traders.

After US president Barack Obama announced American forces had killed the al'Qaeda leader in Pakistan, oil prices declined by more than 2 per cent today. US crude futures fell 2.3 per cent to $111.50, retreating from a 31 month peak of $114.18 set on Friday. Brent crude on the London based ICE Futures Europe exchange was down 2.3 per cent to $122.95 a barrel. Gold and silver, which have also risen in recent weeks, also fell.

The dollar index, which tracks its performance against a basket of major currencies, jumped from a three year low of 72.813, to 73.227.

"A stronger US dollar can cause a pullback in commodity prices, and help support consolidation in local market that we have been seeing recently," said Haissam Arabi, the chief executive of Gulfmena Investments in Dubai.

In the UAE local markets were unchanged at the close, the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange General Index was flat at 2,692.02 points, while the Dubai Financial Market General Index was also flat at to 1,627.86 points.

Elsewhere in the region, Kuwait's measure added 0.1 per cent to 6516.60 points. Bahrain's index was unchanged at 1406.02 points. Oman's benchmark added 0.6 per cent to 6372.32 points. Qatar's index lost 0.2 per cent to 8517.53 points. The Saudi Tadawul All-Share Index was up 0.5 per cent to 6717.79 points.

Dr Nasser Saidi, chief economist and head of external relations at the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority, said: "It's clear that we've been paying a risk premium because security and political-related events.

"That's built into oil prices and the higher return that investors are looking to in the region."

While the greater positive for the region's economic development would be a re-emergence of growth in emerging markets such as China, Dr Saidi said that the decreased political and security risks in the region would be well-received by investors.

"As you remove those types of risk, this will give an uplift: a lower risk premium and the possibility of much more sustainable growth at much higher rates.

"What we also need to do is look at the implications of greater stability for Iraq, and what that means as an investment opportunity," he added.