Middle East

Gulf markets rally; Dubai hits new 10-mnth high

DUBAI/CAIRO: Most regional markets rose on Sunday, taking lead from a positive global backdrop, with Dubai's benchmark climbing to a fresh 10-month high over continued buying momentum.

Dubai's benchmark climbed 2.7 percent to its highest close since April 2011. Volumes surged with about 680 million shares traded, the largest amount since March 2010.

Funds flowed into large-caps, with Emirates NBD surging 5.8 percent and Emaar Properties up 3.3 percent.

Dubai Financial Market, the only listed-bourse in the region, jumped 8.5 percent.

"We've known for a while now that things are improving in UAE - there are still two hurdles - debt for Dubai-related companies and real estate, but everything else is working well in Dubai," said Sebastien Henin, portfolio manager at The National Investor. "Signs are improving slowly and it has to be reflected in the stock market."

Abu Dhabi's index rose 1.3 percent to a five-month high.

First Gulf Bank advanced 4.7 percent, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank gained 4.6 percent and Dana Gas added 4.2 percent. Aldar Properties rallied 4.6 percent, its highest close since October.

Gains in world markets on Friday helped locals sentiment. U.S. benchmark S&P 500 closed at its highest level since June 2008 on signs of economic recovery.

Elsewhere, Qatar's bourse hit a seven-week high as investor interest picked up in bluechips.

The index gained 0.5 percent to its highest close since Jan. 9. It gave back year-to-date gains marked earlier in the session, closing 0.02 percent lower for the year.

Industries Qatar leads gained, rising 1.7 percent, heavyweight Qatar National Bank climbed 0.5 percent and Masraf Al Rayan rose 0.6 percent.

Foreign and local investor participation picked up in the last two weeks on back on an improving global backdrop and re-focus on strong fundamentals of Qatari companies, traders say.

"Local investors are looking for dividends again but foreigners are buying into Qatar's story," said Ali Al Enin, a trader at Qatar National Bank.

United Development advances 1.2 percent. The builder of the man-made Pearl Island project, said on Sunday that an investor is still interested in becoming a strategic shareholder, just weeks after withdrawing its offer.

In Saudi Arabia, the index ticked up 0.2 percent to close at its highest level since September 2008.

Banks led gains with heavyweight Al Rajhi Bank gaining 1 percent, Samba Financial Group rising 1.5 percent and Bank Albilad up 5.4 percent.

"Fundamentals for banks look the best for this year," said Farouk Miah, Acting Head of Research at NCB Capital. "We've been pushing banks because the sector has had a few years of underperformance. They are more aggressive now with government stimulus helping and all the construction projects here will require further liquidity. The outlook is good."

The market traded 12.1 billion riyals ($3.23 billion) in the session, a new high in the last four years as investors pour money into equities on growing confidence.

Investor booked profits in petrochemical stocks with bellwether Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) dipping 0.7 percent and Saudi Kayan Petrochemical down 0.9 percent.

Elsewhere, Egypt's main index rose 2.5 percent to its highest close since July last year. Improving investor sentiment and speculation over possible acquisitions in the real estate sector buoyed the market, traders said.

Among property stocks, Palm Hills jumped 9.6 percent, Egyptian Resorts rose 9.5 percent and SODIC surged 10 percent. Real estate firms, among the biggest fallers on the Egyptian market in 2011, have rallied sharply since January.

"Housing shares remain the top performers, namely Palm Hills and SODIC," said Omar Darwish of CIBC brokerage. "The sector has been seeing ongoing rumours regarding a sale."





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