x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Ramadan rebound unlikely for UAE markets

Market Wrap: Investors continue to stay on the sidelines following a wrenching week for world markets, though fund managers pointed to the growing attractiveness of defensive sectors such as Qatari banks.

The uncertainty haunting world markets stayed the hands of many investors in the UAE today, with markets poised to forgo the usual bounce in the first week of trading after Ramadan unless a big rally materialises Thursday.

The Dubai Financial Market rose 0.3 per cent to 1,491.08, while stocks in Abu Dhabi fell 0.2 per cent to 2,598.71.

Traders remained on the sidelines today as signs of local growth proved elusive, causing volumes to remain in the doldrums on local exchanges. Volumes have in past years bounced significantly following the end of Ramadan.

But instead of a usual rally, markets were experiencing a sense of "Post Eid blues", wrote Gary Dugan, chief investment officer of Emirates NBD Private Bank, in a report.

Precipitous stock market swings were driving investors to perceived havens which would hold their value in the event of wider market sell-offs, said Yazan Abdeen, a fund manager at ING Investment Management.

"The only outperformer is Qatar, driven by the banking sector," he said. "They're becoming aligned with defensive plays."

Banks including Masraf Al Rayan, Qatar Islamic Bank and Doha Bank were the biggest gainers on the QE Index, which rose 0.6 per cent to 8,399.99.

World equity markets rebound from losses seen earlier in the week, with the FTSE Eurofirst 300 index up 2.18 per cent at 923.54 following a strong day of trading on Asian markets.

But the sharp swings in the value of stocks is unnerving many. The VIX index, also known as Wall Street's fear gauge for its measure of volatility of US stocks, is hovering around levels not seen since the financial crisis in early 2009.

Oil futures cooled in trading yesterday, with Brent crude futures falling 41 cents to $113.22 per contract.

Elsewhere in the Gulf, Oman's markets fell, but Kuwait and Saudi Arabia made gains. Bahraini stocks rose, but slightly.