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The Gulf Bubble - What's Happening in Dubai?

The "Black Sunday" (as the the UAE based Al-Bayan called it) ended with local companies listed on DFM (Dubai Financial Market) losing $2.6 billion of its value. Individual investors as well as portfolio managers and investment houses were selling their stocks before it was too late. The Dubai Stock Exchange index dropped by 5.06% to close at 490.14 points, its lowest close since February 2005. The stock of real estate and construction giant Emaar, which is considered the leader of Dubai's exchange, fell down by 8.7%.

One point of view suggests that small individual short-term investors are dominating the transactions in the stock exchange, with no strong presence for institutional investors. An analyst told al-Ittihad Newspaper that the market crash resulted from the pressure on small investors to liquidate. He said that these investors used to borrow short-term to invest in the short term, but the market’s long-term investment needs caused pressure on short-term borrowers and caused this rush to sell stocks. One solution for this would be to limit credit options by institutions, as well as turn short-term loans to long-term ones to give the small borrowers the chance to avoid a liquidation rush. Market stability might be seen by mid May according to the analyst.

The International Monetary Fund shed some light on the problem in its Regional Economic Outlook: ME and Central Asia, May 2006. The report said that during the last two years, several Arab equity markets have been overvalued. This strong performance was an outcome of high oil prices, ample liquidity and strong credit growth. After this overvaluation, markets started corrections, and several reversals started to occur since late 2005. As margin calls increased, the report adds, investors withdrew from regional markets to cover their losses at the local market leading to March 14’s “Black Tuesday” panic selling. This market decline is, according to the report, similar to the 2000 “dot com” bubble burst and the 1989 Nikkei episode. However, the report believed stability may be on the way with the support of oil prices and economic reform, provided governments were able to protect small investors.

posted by Ammar Haykal @ 2:50 PM,

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