DUBAI: A favorable global backdrop lifted all major stock markets in the Middle East on Sunday while strong earnings and positive news flow from the property sector put bourses in the UAE ahead of the pack.
Abu Dhabi’s index surged 2.2 percent and Dubai’s measure was up 1.1 percent, both aided by property and related sectors as well as small-cap stocks which are popular among retail investors.
“Part of it obviously was due to a good lead from the international markets,” said Amer Khan, fund manager at Shuaa Asset Management. Global equity markets surged on Friday as investors set aside any fear of economic softness after a weak US jobs report.
But the UAE’s bourses are also being supported by recent quarterly earnings reports and a recovery in property prices which has enabled local companies to revive previously frozen projects and expand aggressively into new sectors and foreign markets.
Dubai builder Arabtec, whose shares had already surged earlier this month on news of a $6 billion contract, gained another 3.0 percent after announcing plans to branch out into infrastructure, water, energy and financial services.
“Earnings in the UAE have been quite supportive of the rally that we’ve seen thus far,” Khan said, adding that investors expect remaining fourth-quarter financial reports to be positive as well.
Abu Dhabi’s First Gulf Bank was among the top gainers, jumping 6.3 percent.
It announced its highest ever quarterly profit at the end of January and hiked its annual dividend by 20 percent; last week, it announced plans to build an investment banking business
Qatar’s index closely trailed Dubai and gained 1.0 percent. Generous dividend payments by Qatari firms traditionally attract investors during the earnings season.
Analysts also say Qatar, along with Oman which gained 0.7 percent on Sunday, is popular among local investors who look for safe havens after booking profits in more volatile markets.