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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 03/07/2009

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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) UAE shares advanced on Thursday to end the week's choppy trading, with investors reluctant to take firm positions ahead of the second quarter earnings results.

Dubai-based logistics company Aramex, rose by as much as 8.6 per cent in the middle of the session, but was unable to sustain gains as interest petered out towards the close, ending just 1.4 per cent higher at Dh1.41. Shares in Aramex surged nearly 15 per cent on Wednesday after it received regulatory approval allowing it to change its foreign ownership rules. Foreign investors as a result, including all those who are not nationals of the UAE or the Gulf Cooperation Council states, may own up to 49 per cent of the
 company's share capital.

The benchmark index of the Dubai Financial Market edged up by 0.6 per cent to 1,821.19 to gain 2 per cent 
from last week.

The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange main index chalked up 1.6 per cent at 2,671.29, adding 1.7 per cent from the previous trading week.

Thin trading marked both bourses with the total traded value in Dubai reaching Dh560.9 million and even lower at Dh253.9 million in Abu Dhabi.

"The Saudi market on Saturday will set the tone especially if oil continues to drift lower as it did on Thursday. The next few weeks are all about earnings, and hopefully, we will get some large cap results on the tape early to settle nerves and illustrate whether the pullback in the last few weeks was justified or overdone," said Matthew Wakeman, managing director of cash-and-equity-linked trading at EFG-Hermes.

It will take awhile for the markets to go back to their breakthrough levels as investors will prefer to keep cash during their summer holidays, said Vyas Jayabhanu, head of investments at Al Dhafra Financial Brokerage in Abu Dhabi.

"Volumes will remain low as we can expect more of sideways trading, with investors taking advantage of bits of news and speculation."

Dubai index mover Emaar Properties snapped out of a four-day losing streak to climb by 1.5 per cent to Dh2.80. Deyaar Development added 1.3 per cent at Dh0.78. The real-estate company said Abdulla Al Hamli was appointed as the new chairman, replacing Nasser Al-Shaikh. Arabtec Holding edged up 2.9 per cent on follow-through interest after Al-Futtaim HC Securities resumed coverage with a "buy" rating.

Emirates NBD, the country's biggest bank by assets, lost by 2.8 per cent to Dh3.50. The bank is one of several named by sources in the banking sector as having exposure to the troubled Saudi groups Saad and Al Ghosaibi. The other banks named or have issued statements are the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, First Gulf Bank, Mashreq Bank and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.

Dubai-based Mashreq Bank was untraded. "Investors will be keeping an eye on banks to see if their provisions for losses due to their exposure to these Saudi groups will greatly impact on their bottomline in the second quarter," said Haissam Arabi, chief exeuctive officer and fund manager at Gulfmena Alternative Investments.

Investors for the time being, shrugged off news about Abu Dhabi banks' potential losses due to their exposure to Saad and Al Ghosaibi. First Gulf Bank surged by 9.8 per cent to Dh14.55. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank rose by 9.4 per cent to Dh1.74, while the National Bank of Abu Dhabi added 3.2 per cent at Dh10.10.

Property and construction related stocks also pulled up the Abu Dhabi bourse. Building materials manufacturer Arkan Building Materials Co. jumped by 9.3 per cent to Dh4.54. Ras Al Khaimah White Cement rose by 8.9 per cent to Dh0.98.

Among property companies, Sorouh Real Estate added 1.5 per cent at Dh2.79, while the smaller RAK Properties rose by 5.6 per cent to Dh0.75.



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