BEIRUT

Regional

Saudi rebound stalls as volumes slump

FILE - A man walks in front of the WIG20 index graph displayed on a screen at the Warsaw Stock Exchange October 3, 2012. (REUTERS/Kacper Pempel)

- Saudi Arabia's bourse ends lower on its final trading day of the week, snapping a three-session rebound as volumes again slump.

The kingdom's index slips 0.1 percent to 6,887 points. It is up 1.2 percent since Saturday's two-month low.

About 145 million shares trade on the benchmark, with only Sept. 22 seeing fewer shares change hands in the last eight months.

"Fortunately, the jitters of last week have passed but there is not a lot moving the dial," says Julian Bruce, EFG Hermes' director of institutional equity sales.

Arab National Bank slips 1.1 percent to its lowest close since July 2. The stock has fallen in 12 of the last 14 sessions.

Saudi Telecom Co dips 0.3 percent to 40.20 riyals ($10.72). HSBC has raised its target price on STC to 48 riyals from 44 riyals, according to a research note from the bank.

"STC has been delivering stellar domestic revenue growth for the last two quarters and we expect it to continue," the note says, adding that HSBC expects STC's third quarter net income to rise 67 percent year-on-year.

The note also raised the target price on rival operator Zain Saudi to 13.75 riyals from 10.2 riyals. It fell 1 percent to 9.70 riyals.

- Dubai's bourse closes at its highest level for five months, while Abu Dhabi's index ends at a fresh 14-month high.

The Dubai index jumps 1.2 percent to 1,623 points, its highest close since May 1.

The advance was aided by news that Vanguard Group, one of the largest mutual fund providers in the United States, would switch to using FTSE Group from MSCI for benchmarking, opening up stocks in the United Arab Emirates to their funds. While FTSE classifies the UAE as emerging market, MSCI ranks it as a frontier market.

"The timing remains uncertain but this type of event is always a catalyst for increased speculative activity," Julian Bruce, EFG Hermes' director of institutional equity sales, says.

Property stocks rebound from Tuesday's dip, with heavyweight Emaar Properties up 2.5 percent, Union Properties rising 1.8 percent and Tamweel gaining 1.6 percent.

A large property convention, currently taking place in Dubai, was helping to fuel positive sentiment towards the real estate sector in the emirate, Bruce says.

"If you get names like Emaar, Arabtec, Deyaar and Drake and Scull moving then this creates a positive impact on the wider bourse."

Ajman Bank is the day's biggest mover, climbing 7.8 percent - the largest one-day gain in the stock in at least two years. Its volumes are also the highest since Apr 11 2011.

Dubai Investments is the most heavily traded stock, rising 5.4 percent. The firm announced the appointment on Wednesday of Abdulaziz Bin Yagub Al Serkal as its general manager. Serkal was previously head of the company's private equity arm, Masharie.

In Abu Dhabi, the measure gains 0.2 percent to 2,653 points, advancing further from the previous day's highest close since Aug 4 2011.

The two property firms whose merger has driven positive sentiment on the bourse, Aldar Properties and Sorouh Real Estate, gain 1.5 and 0.8 percent respectively.

Qatar's bourse dips for the first time in four sessions, ending the day down 0.4 percent at 8,504 points.

Only one of the 12 largest stocks by market capitalisation - Qatar International Islamic Bank - ends the day in positive territory.

- Saudi Arabia's exchange trades marginally down, while the Omani measure extends its winning streak to four sessions and Kuwait snaps three days of losses to close up.

Alinma Bank and Zain Saudi Arabia fall 0.4 and 0.5 percent respectively.

Having closed limit down on Tuesday, Allied Cooperative Insurance Group initially drops before recovering to trade up 1.2 percent. Shares from the Saudi insurer's rights issue were deposited in investors' accounts earlier this week.

In Oman, the index gains for a fourth straight session, closing up 0.3 percent at 5,617 points. It is the bourse's longest winning run since the start of September.

National Bank of Oman rises 1.1 percent for the third successive day. Bank Sohar, the most traded stock on the exchange, gains 1.4 percent.

Al Anwar Ceramic Tiles Co and Oman Cable Industry , up 0.5 and 3.2 percent respectively, both record 52-week closing highs.

Meanwhile, the Kuwait benchmark gains 0.1 percent to close at 5,980 points, snapping a three-session losing streak.

Smaller caps are the focus, with Munshaat Real Estate Projects Co up 6 percent and Al Dar National Real Estate Co rising 7.6 percent.

Having been down 2.9 percent after 30 minutes of trading, Sokouk Holding jumps to end the day up 7.8 percent.

- Dubai's index jumps in early trading as property stocks rebound from Tuesday's dip, while bourses in Abu Dhabi and Oman continue their recent gains.

Dubai's index climbs 0.6 percent to 1,613 points.

Heavyweight Emaar Properties leads the way, advancing 2 percent. Other real estate-linked gainers include Union Properties, up 2 percent, Arabtec, 0.8 percent higher, and Tamweel, which rises 1.6 percent.

Abu Dhabi edges up from the previous day's 14-month high, up 0.1 percent to 2,650 points.

Aldar Properties and Sorouh Real Estate, the main drivers of positive sentiment in recent days, trade flat.

The Oman measure also continues its recent upward trend, gaining 0.1 percent to 5,610 points.

Bank Sohar rises 1.4 percent, while Oman Investment and Finance Co, the most traded stock on the exchange, gains 1.6 percent.

The bourse in Kuwait, having ended lower for the last three days, continues to trade down. The index slips 0.3 percent to 5,954 points.

Activity is concentrated in smaller stocks, with Equipment Holding Co down 1.4 percent and Sokouk Holding dropping 2.9 percent.

Qatar's benchmark falls marginally in early trade, down 0.1 percent to 8,530 points.

- Global sentiment dipping back towards a bearish tone provides a negative backdrop for Gulf Arab markets, while Abu Dhabi will be watched to see if it can continue its recent merger-driven rally.

Abu Dhabi's index hit a 14-month high on Tuesday as the rally fuelled by anticipation surrounding the merger of the bourse's two largest listed property developers continued.

The bourse has risen for four straight sessions, with Aldar Properties and Sorouh Real Estate both gaining 0.8 percent on Tuesday.

The dollar firmed and most riskier assets fell on Wednesday as data from China and Australia added to gloom about the global economic outlook, which already was deepened by uncertainty about the timing of Spain's request for a bailout.

Brent crude futures also slipped towards $111 per barrel, hurt by persistent concerns over global growth and oil demand, while Europe's festering debt crisis added to uncertainty.

Oman's bourse posted its biggest one-day gain in two months, aided by strong buying from local asset managers and pension funds.

"The market reversed its bearish tone seen on the last two weeks, breaching once again the medium-term (11 weeks) moving average," says a technical analysis from Kuwait's Global Investment House.

"Focus now is on last month's high at 5,625 points, which if broken will promote a test of the upper end of the 20-months declining trend line and the long-term (50 weeks) moving average at around 5,700 points."

Ahead of results season, Deyaar Development's chief executive said the firm is predicting a profitable 2012, pinned on a recovery in the real estate market and increased revenues from sales.

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co will be in focus after sources told Reuters it had begun talks with banks over refinancing up to $3 billion of loan debt.

Meanwhile, Qatar's Barwa Real Estate is looking to invest in the London property market, in particular hotels and business towers, and hopes to wrap up deals before the end of the year, the company's deputy group chief executive told Reuters in an interview.

 

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