DFM continues decline, led by Arabtec

The benchmark DFM General Index on Monday continued its slide to hit its lowest level in eight weeks, dragged down by construction giant Arabtec amid escalating regional tension.

Issac John

The DFMG Index, one of the world’s best performing indices in 2013, slumped 3.1 per cent to 4,468.67 points, the lowest since March 31, at the close on Monday.

Despite a clarification by the DFM on Sunday about the size of the shareholding of Aabar Investments in Arabtec, the UAE’s largest listed construction firm again plunged 10 per cent, the maximum allowed, as other heavyweights followed suit.

Arabtec slid to Dh4.05 and Emaar Properties slid 3.2 per cent to Dh9.05. With the relentless fall in a row, Arabtec now has suffered a 45 per cent decline from a high of Dh7.40 on May 14. On Sunday, the construction major closed 10 per cent lower following a “temporary system glitch” on Dubai Financial Market website which showed the state-owned Aabar Investments shedding its holding in the company to 14.32 per cent from 18.85 per cent. The Abu Dhabi-based Aabar reduced its ownership in Arabtec last week to 18.85 from 21.57 per cent.

Other shares that dragged down the index include Union Properties, which fell 3.96 per cent to Dh2.18, Drake and Scull International, dropping by 2.94 per cent to Dh1.65, Dubai Islamic Bank, losing 1.01 per cent to close at Dh6.87.

“Arabtec is adding to negative sentiment in the market and no one understands what’s going on here,” Hisham Khairy, the Dubai-based head of institutional trade at Mena Corp Financial Services, quoted by Bloomberg as writing in a note to investors.

“The Iraq situation is not helping and it’s stopping people from putting new liquidity in the market. We are seeing some really good prices but people are not coming in,”

Mohammed Ali Yasin, managing director of NBAD Securities, was also quoted as saying by the agency.

The mounting regional unrest took its toll on other bourse across the region as Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index slumped one per cent. Qatar’s QE Index retreated 1.7 per cent as Kuwait’s SE Price Index fell 0.5 per cent and Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index slid one per cent.

The flare-up in Iraq is causing jitters across the GCC markets that witnessed higher trading transactions in May, driven by rising investor optimism. The combined market capitalisation of GCC bourses rose 1.9 per cent to $1.118 trillion in May from $1.09 trillion in April as all markets except Kuwait recorded robust transactions. With $530.6 billion, Saudi market was the highest contributor, followed by Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar. Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain together contributed $158.3 billion to the total market cap in May.

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