Stock Dubai Financial Market TRADERS DFM
Banking and real estate stocks came under early pressure as the Dubai Financial Market opened Monday. Happenings in Turkey were on investors' minds. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai and Abu Dhabi stocks softened in early trades on Monday amid mixed signals from Asian markets, which was set off by a plunge in the Turkish lira. Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan fired the central bank governor who had hiked bank rates to 19 per cent, and which sparked a run on the currency.

Dubai Financial Market traded 0.9 per cent lower at 2,561 points with the biggest drag coming from the financial stocks whose rout was led by Emirates NBD. The bank was the biggest loser on the index, trimming 2.2 per cent owing to its exposure to Turkey where its subsidiary DenizBank operates.

Bears also dominated real estate shares with Emaar Properties shedding 0.8 per cent, and Emaar Development edging back more than 1 per cent to extend its run of losses for a fourth day after the board's no dividend payout proposal.

Fundamentals remain tricky
"Most Middle Eastern markets have been doing rather well over the past few weeks, showing strong investor sentiment that things could be going back to normal soon," according to Michael Stark, Research Analyst at "However, there is still a lot of work to be done, and the fundamentals don't exactly look as perfect as the most optimistic investors - and speculators - might want to believe.

"One of the top companies to watch will be Saudi Aramco. Despite the company's operations being significantly disrupted by the pandemic, Saudi Aramco managed to post $49 billion in profits - one of the highest earnings of any public company worldwide.

"There will also be a lot of speculation over the Saudi and UAE jobs markets. Employment has been falling due to the pandemic, although experts confirmed in January that work conditions had improved markedly going into 2021."

Hit hard

Healthcare firm Amanat Holding dropped 2.1 per cent after its Board of Directors decided not to hand out full-year dividends and sought shareholder approval for the same. It earlier reported that profits plunging to Dh8.3 million in a pandemic-ravaged last year, down from Dh60 million a year earlier.

In pursuit of a turnaround, the firm earlier this month acquired Cambridge Medical and Rehabilitation Center for an enterprise value of $232 million in what was its first wholly owned investment in healthcare in UAE.

Stock sales

Banks also led the losses on Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, which slipped 0.2 per cent to trade at 5,712 points with First Abu Dhabi Bank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank dipping lower. Dana Gas shed 1.2 per cent to trade at the bottom of the list after its board approved selling of treasury shares in a move set to boost the supply side.

Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain markets traded slightly higher or little changed from the last session, but lenders were heading down there as well.