Holding steady in the storm

UAE stock markets take a breather, as political unrest in Syria and Yemen provides an opportunity for profit taking

A recent rally in the UAE wavered yesterday as Abu Dhabi stocks fell and Dubai's market only just ended the day in positive territory.

Investors were rattled by unrest in Syria and Yemen, while authorities in Japan warned the Fukushima nuclear power station had probably suffered a partial meltdown.

The Dubai Financial Market General Index rose 0.08 per cent to 1,557.55 points, clinging on to a rise since the start of the month during which the index has increased by 10.41 per cent. Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi stocks declined 0.46 per cent to 2,633.57.

"It's a combination of geopolitical risk and international effects of the Japanese nuclear issues," said Marwan Shurrab, the chief trader at Gulfmena Alternative Investments.

"This, combined with the strong performance we've seen, would entice investors towards profit-taking and taking some risk off the table," Mr Shurrab said. But Mohammed Ali Yassin, the chief investment officer of CAPM Investment, said the damage to markets from regional unrest could have been far worse.

"Markets have taken it in their stride. They haven't been reacting violently to what's happening," Mr Yassin said. "The political risk effect is more on the sentiment than it is on fundamentals."

There were big gains for many of Dubai's blue-chip companies, steadying the index as a whole. Emaar Properties, the developer of the Burj Khalifa, rose 0.63 per cent to Dh3.18 a share on the DFM, while Arabtec rose 1.83 per cent to Dh1.67 a share.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank declined 2.05 per cent to Dh2.39 a share, as speculation mounted that the bank would move to sell its 25 per cent stake in the Malaysian lender RHB Capital.