x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Traders wary ahead of MSCI decision

Markets: Trading mixed at the open ahead of MSCI decision whether the UAE gets receives "emerging markets" classification later tonight.

Investors cautiously traded on the local bourses ahead of a possible index upgrade to be announced later this evening.

The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange General Index lost 0.2 per cent to 2,751.11 points, while the Dubai Financial Market General Index was up 0.4 per cent to 1,579.14 points.

MSCI will announce at 1am local time whether it considers the UAE an "emerging market". The index company currently categorises the UAE as a "frontier" market. An upgrade could attract new liquidity to the country's bourses and drive index fund investment, which has steadily declined in recent years.

The UAE has "solved most of the issues mentioned by MSCI," Joe Kawkabani, the chief investment officer of equities at Franklin Templeton Investments told Bloomberg.

"If the UAE becomes part of the MSCI emerging- markets index, it would have a very small weighting because of the foreign ownership limits. It's still a big positive as it puts the UAE on additional radar screens for investors," Kawkabani added.

The value of stocks traded on UAE bourses is Dh36 billion so far this year. At that rate, the value of total trading would be about Dh70bn at the end of the year. In 2008, trading on the bourses was worth Dh530bn.

Oil prices rebounded this morning. Brent crude was up 10 cents to $111.79 a barrel, after having fallen as much as 58 cents earlier in the day. US crude futures gained 78 cents to $94.04 a barrel.

Elsewhere in the region, Kuwait's measure was unchanged at 6,245.60 points. Bahrain's index was also unchanged at 1,343.27 points. Qatar's benchmark lost 1.4 per cent to 8,217.32 points. Oman's index was unchanged at 6,003.66 points. The Saudi Tadawul All-Share Index was down 1 per cent to 6,377.71 points.