Turnover on bourses hits record high

During May 1 to 20, the value of shares traded in the UAE stood at around $8.5bn (PATRICK CASTILLO)

Turnover on the UAE stock market swelled to a record high in 2007 despite a sharp fall in the combined Arab stocks trade because of turmoil in Saudi Arabia's bourse, official figures showed yesterday.

Dealers expect the strong performance to remain this year as more foreign investors flock to the UAE and quarterly results by most listed companies have indicated they are heading for one of the best financial years.

"Last year recorded the highest value of traded shares because of strong demand by foreign investors, global market turmoil, lower interest rates and good performance by most listed companies," said Ziad Dabbas, share dealing adviser at the government-controlled National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

"The value of traded shares in the first quarter remained very high and our expectations are that the UAE market will maintain the high levels this year as a result of even larger profits, more foreign investment and other factors."

From around $113.9 billion (Dh418bn) in 2006, the total value of shares traded in the Abu Dhabi and Dubai bourses leaped by about 33 per cent to $150.9bn in 2007, showed the figures by the Abu Dhabi-based Arab Monetary Fund (AMF), which tracks the daily movement of shares in 16 official Arab stock exchanges.

The leap in those two bourses was in contrast with the sharp decline in the combined turnover in the Arab stock market to around $1.1 trillion in 2006 from $1.68trn in 2007 mainly because of a dive in the Saudi share dealing.

The figures showed turnover in the Saudi Tadawul, the largest and busiest stock market in the Middle East, tumbled to less than half from around $1.4trn in 2006 to $682bn in 2007 following weeks of turmoil in the Kingdom's bourse last year because of widespread speculation that created panic share selling and stifled growth in the profits of most banks.

During 2007, the bulk of the turnover increase in the UAE was in Abu Dhabi, which more than doubled to $47.7bn from $19.2bn in 2006. Turnover in Dubai grew by around 10 per cent to $103.2bn from $94.7bn.

Kuwait was another star performer in 2007, with turnover rocketing to $130.8bn from $59.6bn. Qatar and Oman also grew to $29.9bn from $20.5bn and from $2.2bn to $5.2bn respectively. Dealing in Bahrain's Manama Securities Market slipped to $1.06bn from $1.38bn. The figures showed turnover in the UAE remained relatively high in the first quarter of 2008, standing at nearly $54.2bn.

It was lower than the turnover of $78bn in the last quarter of 2007 but far higher than the $15bn turnover recorded during the first quarter of last year.

In the other GCC markets, turnover stood at $188bn in Saudi Arabia in the first quarter of 2008, nearly $44.3bn in Kuwait, $9.9bn in Qatar, $2.4bn in Oman and around $826m in Bahrain.

During May 1 to May 20, the value of shares traded in the UAE stood at $8.5bn, the second largest in the Arab world after Saudi Arabia.