UAE firms to be listed on London FTSE global index

Twenty one UAE stocks are to be listed on the influential equities index as investors pour back into local markets.

Investors poured back into local markets yesterday, bidding up share prices as they welcomed news that could reverse the downward trend so far this year. Dubai shares hit a three-month high on the first day of trading since Ramadan, bolstered by Dubai World's announcement over the weekend that it reached a deal with 99 per cent of its creditor banks.

In another development, the regional director of London's Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) told The National yesterday that 21 listed companies from the UAE would be added to its global equity index from Monday in a move that promises to bring the shares to more international investors. The inclusion on the FTSE index "is a strong step towards the development and growth of the market as a whole", said Marwan Shurrab, the vice president and chief trader at Gulfmena Alternative Investments in Dubai.

The Dubai Financial Market (DFM) General Index added 2.4 per cent to 1,630, reaching its highest level since May 24. Traded value on the DFM was its highest in months and more than double the daily average recently, as US$110 million (Dh404m) worth of transactions were recorded. The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange General Index (ADX) also gained 1.4 per cent to 2,567 on similarly strong volumes. Both bourses remain solidly in the red for the year but some analysts see the FTSE exposure as a possible cure for the low volumes that have afflicted the markets.

"We will be looking at Dh1 billion daily in traded value as normal, which would change everything," said Saad al Chalabi, an institutional trader at AlRamz Securities in Abu Dhabi. FTSE, the largest indexes provider outside North America, classified the UAE as a "secondary emerging market" last year but the stocks will not be added to the Global Equity Index Series until next week, said Jonathan Cooper, the regional director for the FTSE.

Being a part of the index means global fund managers controlling tens of billions of dollars will begin evaluating the shares as potential investments against those in other emerging markets. Of the 21 stocks to be included, 13 are traded on the DFM, seven on ADX and one - DP World - is listed on the NASDAQ Dubai. MSCI Barra, a competing index, said this year it still considered the UAE a "frontier market" and would not consider upgrading the country to "emerging market" status until next year. But the surge in prices is also the extension of a rally that started before the Eid closure, as the Dubai index added 9.5 per cent over the last six trading days before the break. "The rally was linked to good news over the weekend from Dubai World and outstanding performance in the international markets and commodities," said Mr Shurrab, adding it would not be surprising to see profit-taking in the short term. "The market has to take a breather before we see a continuation of this rally." Dubai World's approval from its bank creditors is expected to remove some of the risk associated with the entity and for banks in the UAE, the ratings agency Moody's Investors Service said in a note yesterday. The emirate's five-year sovereign credit default swap spreads tightened by about 6 basis points to 451 basis points from Friday's close, according to Markit. Dubai's five-year sovereign CDS peaked in February at 654.45 basis points.