x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Gulf markets up, but still shaky

Markets across the region closed up today, led by firm trading in the banking and property sectors.

Markets across the region closed up today, led by firm trading in the banking, property and telecommunication sectors. Investor confidence remained slightly shaky, however, with traders hesitant on fears that share prices could drop further. "Low investor confidence has strongly impacted demand which dropped sharply in the past few days," said the head of the Jeddah-based Al-Dakkak Economic Studies House, Ali al Dakkak.

"There seems to be no buyers as some investors believe prices of shares are still high and could drop further," Mr al Dakkak told AFP. Value of traded shares in most of the seven markets was lower than average, following global trends. The Tadawul All-Shares Index in Saudi Arabia, the Arab world's largest capitalised bourse, added 2.65 per cent to close above the 6,000-point mark for the first time in two weeks. The TASI, still down 45.2 per cent on the year, was supported by petrochemicals and banking, which rose 3.4 per cent and 2.1 per cent, respectively.

In Kuwait, the second largest Arab market, the KSE closed up 0.35 per cent at 9,715.90 points, with the leading banking sector down 2.15 per cent. Qatar's benchmark. QSI ends 1.5 per cent higher at 7,330 points, led higher by bank stocks. The bourse's top heavyweight gainers Doha Bank and Commercial Bank of Qatar rose 4.35 per cent and 2.35 per cent respectively. In Kuwait, mobile telecommunications company ZAIN surged 5.45 per cent, leading the index KWSE to close 0.35 per cent higher at 9,715 points.

The country's banking sector has been under pressure since the Gulf Bank, the second biggest lender, encountered losses because of derivatives deals in global markets. The government of the oil-rich emirate is also considering ways to bail out investment companies which have more than 20 billion dollars in local and foreign debt, some of which has matured. In the UAE, the Dubai Financial Market finished up just 0.3 per cent at 2,915.53 points despite a 2.1 per cent gain by the market leader, property giant Emaar.

The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, closed 0.8 per cent higher on 3,384.39 points. The Doha Securities Market gained 1.5 per cent at close while the small Muscat Securities Market edged up 0.6 per cent. Gulf markets have shed about US$250 billion (Dh918.31bn) of their value last month on fears of the global financial meltdown. They ended October valued at $720bn, a drop of $400bn since the start of the year. *AFP and Reuters