Gulf bourses ended mixed in a muted session Thursday that saw investors little moved by index compiler MSCI’s decision to keep frontier market status for the UAE and Qatar, while Egypt’s bourse resumed its decline on political woes.
This was the fourth time Qatar and UAE failed to obtain emerging market status, an upgrade which could attract renewed interest from long-term investors and global fund managers.
For the UAE, MSCI said it meets all the requirements for promotion but there are specific market “accessibility issues” related to custody, clearing and settlement.
Meanwhile, it said the “very low foreign ownership limit levels imposed on Qatari companies is expected to be the only remaining impediment to the reclassification of the MSCI Qatar Index to emerging markets.”
MSCI had previously denied both Qatar and the UAE promotions in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Dubai’s index slipped 0.4 percent, trading within its tight range of 85 points over the past six weeks.
There was little hope of an upgrade to emerging market status and few bets placed ahead of the announcement.
“Things were clear -- we knew what the MSCI was looking for and the improvement was minimal,” said Sebastien Henin, portfolio manager at The National Investor. “It’s a complete non-event right now. The bulk of the investors are already out of the markets.”
Bellwether Emaar Properties dropped 1.4 percent and Dubai Financial Market, the only listed Gulf bourse, shed 0.6 percent. These two stocks would have seen funds inflow in case of an emerging market upgrade for the UAE.
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