Dubai shares sent upwards by skyscraper

SHARES of firms in the troubled Gulf state of Dubai began 2010 on a high yesterday ahead of today's opening of the world's tallest building.

The emirate's stock index closed at its highest level for two weeks as investors predicted the official launch of the Burj Dubai will lift earnings at developer Emaar Properties.

Emaar's stock rose 7.8 per cent to its highest since November while counterparts like Burj contractor Arabtec and Deyaar lifted 6.3 per cent and 6.9 per cent respectively.

Dubai's DFM General Index increased 3.4 per cent to 1,866 on the first trading day of the year.
Dubai shares struggled last year amid a credit shortage, lower property prices and fears that state-owned holding firms including Dubai World might fail to service debts.

Analysts forecast healthy first quarter results at Emaar and said the tower's opening was boosting investor sentiment.

Prime Emirates' head of sales Shawkat Raslan said: "Big volumes in Emaar and Arabtec mean the market should be able to go a bit higher."

Dubai shook global markets in November when it said it wanted a standstill on billion-dollar debts linked to Dubai World and its property units Limitless and Nakheel.

A $10bn (£6.2bn) lifeline from Abu Dhabi helped Dubai to avoid defaulting on a $4.1bn bond from Nakheel and provided funds to service debts. The first occupants of the tower, which has more than 160 floors, are set to move in during February.