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The Nasdaq Dubai exchange began trading single-stock futures on shares in some of the United Arab Emirates' biggest companies on Thursday, a step towards drawing fresh money into UAE equity markets. A lack of hedging opportunities has frustrated foreign and institutional investors in the UAE, where short-selling is restricted.
As a result, some have asked investment banks to design over-the-counter options for individual stocks. Nasdaq Dubai's standardised, exchange-listed futures, or agreements to buy or sell shares at an agreed price on a future date, are cheaper to trade and more transparent, giving investors a clearer idea of price direction while helping UAE regulators monitor derivatives activity affecting stocks.
Trade was thin on Thursday as only a small number of investors entered the futures market on its first day, but market participants said the trading system was working smoothly. Shuaa Capital is market-maker for the futures. The exchange is initially offering futures on seven stocks accounting for almost half of traded value in UAE markets: A total of 1, futures contracts, each providing exposure to underlying shares, traded on Thursday, Nasdaq Dubai said. In one trade, five October contracts traded in Aldar at 2.
With the exception of Kuwait, Gulf Arab stock markets have been slow to introduce futures and options. Nasdaq Dubai originally launched equity derivatives in , but this coincided with the global financial crisis and trading failed to gain critical mass. Activity petered out after Hamed Ahmed Ali, chief executive of Nasdaq Dubai, told Reuters last month that the exchange aimed eventually to develop futures based on UAE stock indexes as well as single-stock futures on shares of other countries in the region.
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