Regional restlessness offsets gains made in Asia

Trading on the local bourses was lacklustre as unrest in Bahrain continued, even as Asian markets rebounded for the first time following Japan's devastating earthquake.

UAE bourses showed little movement yesterday, as a rebound in Asian markets was offset by escalating unrest in Bahrain.

The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange General Index lost 0.5 per cent to 2,600.38 points, while the Dubai Financial Market General Index added 0.2 per cent to 1,450.51 points.

Arabtec Holding showed the strongest volumes and gained 2.2 per cent to Dh1.37.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rose 5.6 per cent to 9,093.72 points, the benchmark's first rebound since the devastating earthquake and tsunami last Friday.

"The Asian gains are not that substantial and we still have more uncertainty in our neighbouring countries," said Marwan Shurrab, the chief trader at the asset management company Gulfmena Alternative Investments in Dubai. "The instability in the region, with demonstrations across Libya, Yemen and now Syria for the first time is affecting geopolitical risk in the region and is not inviting to international investors," Mr Shurrab said.

Others said there were no strong local catalysts to spur trading.

"There aren't any internal drivers to move the markets at the moment," said Walid Shihabi, the chief executive of Shuaa Securities in Abu Dhabi.

Bahrain's stock exchange suspended trading yesterday in response to King Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa declaring a three-month state of emergency, according to its website.

Elsewhere in the region: Kuwait's measure ended 1.1 per cent lower at 6,250.90; Oman's benchmark retreated 0.7 per cent to 6247.33; and Qatar's index lost 0.7 per cent to 8,122.54. The Saudi Tadawul All-Share Index ended 0.9 per cent higher at 6,069.94.