UAE stocks end week lower

Investors quiet ahead of Bernanke’s speech

The UAE bourses closed lower for the week as investors booked recent gains ahead of U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech on Friday, which may signal further monetary stimulus.

Other Gulf bourses were generally lacklustre.

Trading activity has generally been quiet in the region in the last week of August, with investors sitting on the sidelines waiting for buying opportunities, and some still away on summer and post-Eid holidays.

Dubai's index finished 0.5 per cent lower at 1,548 points, continuing its retreat from a 16-week closing peak of 1,587 hit on Aug. 23.

Bellwether Emaar Properties declined 0.9 per cent, Dubai Financial Market slipped 2.5 per cent and Drake and Scull fell 1.3 per cent.

Abu Dhabi's benchmark shed 0.5 per cent, losing 1.3 per cent for the week.

"Barring economic disaster, any action out of the Fed in the next two-three weeks will not be a prudent move," said Rakan Himadeh, equity portfolio manager at Al Mal Capital.

"At best we're likely to see continued hints of potential QE3. In the immediate term, risk-reward on stocks is not there for the bulls."

Elsewhere, Kuwait's index eased 0.1 per cent, down for only the second session in the last 11. The market has rallied 3.2 per cent from an eight-year low hit on Aug. 12.

Despite the continuing political deadlock in Kuwait, investor confidence has partially returned because companies have posted second-quarter earnings by the deadline, removing fears they could be suspended for failure to do so in time.

Thousands of Kuwaitis took part in a rally late on Monday to protest any changes to the electoral law which they said could harm the prospects of opposition lawmakers in upcoming elections. The opposition bloc will meet on Sept. 2 to discuss its next steps.

"A lot of investors don't like holding positions over the weekend due to uncertainties, so retails jump out," said a Kuwait-based trader.

Shares in Wataniya rose 1.6 per cent to 2.56 dinars. The telco said Qatar Telecom's offer to buy the remaining 47.5 per cent stake at 2.6 dinars per share is "appropriate to shareholders interested in accepting the offer and selling their Wataniya Telecom shares". The tender offer will start on Sept. 4 and end on Oct. 4, Wataniya said in a bourse statement.

Traders believe the second-largest holder in Wataniya, Kuwait Investment Authority, has approved Qtel's offer but KIA has not responded to queries by Reuters on plans for its stake.

In Qatar, the index bucked the regional trend. It gained 0.5 per cent, halting a three-day slide from Sunday's 15-week high.

Doha's market is the second-worst performing Gulf market after Oman this year, with year-to-date losses at 3.4 per cent. But some analysts and investors argue selling earlier this year was unjustified and that Qatari firms have strong fundamentals which benefit from clarity on government policy and economic growth.

Egypt's benchmark stock index rose on Thursday to its highest close since March on renewed investor optimism towards the country's political and economic stability, traders said.

The index climbed 0.5 per cent to 5,332 points, bringing it closer to major technical resistance at this year's intra-day peak of 5,473.

"The political front is looking somehow pretty stable. That's what's encouraging the retail investors," said Amr Mostafa of Pharos Securities. "The main force driving the market is retail investors."

Financial stocks were the top gainers, with Citadel Capital gaining 5.4 per cent and EFG-Hermes up 5.1 per cent.

The market has been buoyed by signs that President Mohamed Mursi is consolidating the authority of his new government and by Egypt's request last week for a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, larger than the $3.2 billion originally envisaged. Egyptian officials said they hoped the loan would be signed by November or early December.

"After the International Monetary Fund visit, the whole market will benefit but financials will definitely benefit the most," said Mostafa.

"The whole market is looking positive and looking to target the 5,500 level."

Technically, the index's rise in August has triggered a reverse head & shoulders formation, a classic sign of the start of an uptrend; the measuring objective of the formation is about 6,000 points, which could be hit by the end of October if the uptrend line from the June low holds.

SODIC fell 1.2 per cent while Orascom Construction lost 1.2 per cent.

 

Heavyweight Industries Qatar gained 0.7 per cent and Qtel climbed 1.3 per cent. Qatar National Bank rose 0.5 per cent.

THURSDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

DUBAI

* The benchmark fell 0.5 per cent to 1,548 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index declined 0.5 per cent to 2,562 points.

KUWAIT

* The measure eased 0.07 per cent to 5,863 points.

QATAR

* The benchmark gained 0.5 per cent to 8,484 points.

OMAN

* The measure slipped 0.1 per cent to 5,480 points.

BAHRAIN

* The measure gained 0.8 per cent to 1,086 points.

EGYPT

* The index rose 0.5 per cent to 5,332 points.

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