The UAE and Qatar bourses were the top performers in the Gulf in the first half of May although share dealing remained overshadowed by speculation in Abu Dhabi and Dubai markets, official figures showed yesterday.
The UAE and Qatar gained nearly $20bn (Dh73.4bn) in market capitalisation during the first half of May to more than offset a decline in the bourses of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and relative stability in Bahrain and Oman, showed the figures by the Abu Dhabi-based Arab Monetary Fund (AMF).
From around $1.126trn at the start of May, the combined market capitalisation of the seven bourses in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) swelled by nearly $12bn to $1.138trn on May 15, said the AMF, which tracks the daily share movement in the Arab world's 16 official stock exchanges.
The increase was mostly in the UAE and Qatar as there was a decline in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, a slight fall in Bahrain and limited growth in Oman.
From $256.01bn, the market capitalisation of Abu Dhabi and Dubai grew to $265.68bn in the same period. Qatar's Doha Securities Market increased to $134.81bn on May 15 from $124.42bn at the start of the month.
Saudi Arabia's Tadawul, by far the largest and busiest bourse in the Middle East, lost nearly $4bn to $471.24bn from $475.33bn, while Kuwait's market capitalisation declined to $209.11bn from $213.05bn in the same period.
Bahrain and Oman were less volatile as they recorded slight changes. From $29.66bn at the start of May, the capitalisation of Bahrain's Manama Securities Market slipped to around $29.19bn on May 15 while Oman's Muscat Securities Market grew from $27.71bn to $28.66bn.
"Speculation is still prevailing in the UAE bourses but market fundamentals remain the dominant factor," an Abu Dhabi-based stocks dealer said. "There will always be ups and downs but in the end, the market remains buoyant, vibrant and strong as the general economic situation in the country is at its best and both the firms and investors are benefiting from this situation and from the continuous improvement in the market regulations."
Despite persistent speculation, both Abu Dhabi and Dubai bourses recorded astronomical growth rates in 2007, with their respective indices rocketing by 27.9 and 46.2 per cent at the end of the year, according to the AMF.
The report showed the GCC bourses had 654 companies on May 15, almost unchanged from the start of the month, but far higher than the 574 companies listed in mid-2007.
They stood at 67 companies in Abu Dhabi, 57 in Dubai, 116 in Saudi Arabia, 198 in Kuwait, 124 in Oman, 42 in Qatar and 50 in Bahrain. On May 15, the combined turnover in the GCC exchanges exceeded $2.5 billion, excluding the bourses of Kuwait and Bahrain, for which the AMF gave no figures.
Foreign investors' tally
Foreign investors sold Dh266 million worth of stocks at the Dubai Financial Market last week, a press statement said yesterday.
Shares bought by foreign investors, or non-UAE nationals, last week reached Dh1.841 billion comprising 34.2 per cent of the total value of stocks traded during the period. The value of stocks sold by foreign investors reached Dh2.107bn comprising 39.1 per cent of the total value of stocks. The value of stocks bought by institutional investors reached Dh1.449bn comprising 26.9 per cent of the total value of stocks traded.