Investors are nervously awaiting the fourth quarter results, which will begin to trickle out from the end of this week, to see if their worst fears have been confirmed.
In the meantime, the Dubai Financial Market climbed 1.23 per cent to 1,757 points following gains in seven of its 10 largest stocks.
Of these, DFM Company was the star after surging 4.5 per cent to Dh1.39, while Dubai's beleaguered property developers also shone.
Emaar added 2.9 per cent to Dh2.48, while Deyaar and Union Properties increased by 1.85 and 3.84 per cent respectively. Emaar will only turn bullish if it breaks Dh2.80.
"There's very little incentive for investors and we won't see any significant moves apart from on a stock specific basis until the fourth quarter results come out," said Julian Bruce, EFG-Hermes director of institutional equity sales.
"The expected Q4 figures have already been priced in, and the assumption is that they will be appalling from a quarter on quarter perspective, but there should be some positive and negative surprises."
The DFM's General Index opened well to make early gains before slipping below its opening level. It then mounted a decent surge mid-session to hit a high of 1,775, but it then again stumbled to end below its immediate resistance of 1,768.
Technical analysts say the Dubai index will trade between 1,700 and 1,800 points for the time being, with the latter mark providing critical resistance. "The market will continue to move in a fairly tight range and track sideways for the time being, with sporadic volatility," said Bruce.
With the market beset by low volumes, the index is likely to slide lower, according to and Sherif Abdul Khalek, Beltone Financial institutional trading manager. "Dubai will be flat for the rest of the week and if it can't break 1,800, then the DFM could slip back to challenge 1,650 again," added Khalek.
Gainers outnumbered losers 15:6, with Shuaa Capital and Dubai Islamic Bank notable members of the latter group after falling 5.6 and 2.5 per cent respectively. The latter is one of Dubai's best performers this year having 19 per cent in the six trading sessions of 2009. Gulf General Investments also declined, slipping 4.4 per cent to a 50-week low of Dh4.75.
Turnover hit a three session high of Dh308 million after seeing 198m shares change hands. Emaar was most active with 39m shares worth a combined Dh97m traded, while Arabtec's Dh65m placed it second and DFM Co was third with Dh42m. Arabtec is slowly recovering from this month's shock cancellation of its $1.3bn (Dh4.7bn) project to build the Meydan horseracing project.
DFM makes tentative start to 2009
The DFM has made a tentative start to 2009 after enduring a dire 2008 that saw it lose 72 per cent of its value following a collapse in share values across all sectors.
This was caused by multiple factors. The first was the abrupt exit of foreign funds from the second quarter onwards after overseas speculators gave up hope of a revaluation of the dirham.
This also saw foreign funds withdraw deposits from banks, which hamstrung lenders just as the credit crunch was starting to bite and prompted them to cut credit lines to leveraged investors. The latter were then forced to sell to cover margin positions on plunging stocks, which drove equities down lower.
Simultaneously, the Western financial crisis exploded in September to spark a global flight from equities and Dubai stocks were among the hardest hit, despite the UAE’s largely buoyant economy.
Most analysts had expected a softening of demand and prices in the real estate sector from 2009, but the credit crisis instead engineered a more savage slump, which has spread to a host of other sectors, including the media and financial services.
In this context, and with the global economic outlook deteriorating by the day as Asian manufacturers wilt under plunging sales in Western markets, UAE investors see little incentive to buy into local stocks at present, despite a swathe of listed firms at fire-sale prices. “There’s a general lack of interest and selling pressure on both exchanges,” said Julian Bruce, EFG-Hermes director of institutional equity sales.
“Last year there was a ridiculous prevailing perception that the Gulf would be immune to a global downturn, which has proven to be clearly not the case. There’s no indication of any sort of local recovery and the fact realty brokers are now looking to pay staff on a commission only basis indicates there hasn’t been any pick up in this sector, which will drag the rest of the market down with it.”