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Higher oil buoys Gulf markets

Most major Gulf stock markets, led by Dubai, rose on Sunday after the Brent oil price hit a 4-1/2-month high, while the bourse of energy importer Egypt closed in the red.

Brent crude climbed to $65.80 a barrel on Friday because of continued fighting in Yemen and, although U.S. crude fell on concerns about another upcoming stock build, both benchmarks posted weekly gains.

The main Saudi equities index gained 1.2 percent on Sunday to a 5-1/2-month closing high of 9,725 points as petrochemicals giant Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC), which would benefit from stronger oil, was the main support, jumping 3.5 percent.

Saudi International Petrochemical Co (Sipchem) rose 4.0 percent, extending gains since it said last week that it had finished testing a new plastics plant owned by an affiliate..

Petrochemicals and metals firm National Industrialisation Co (Tasnee) added 2.8 percent after announcing it had picked contractors to build a titanium sponge plant for its majority-owned Cristal subsidiary.

Retailer Jarir Marketing, which said on Sunday it had launched a new showroom in the city of Jazan, climbed 1.9 percent.

Saudi Arabia’s index still faces major technical resistance in the 9,572-9,745 point area, where the 200-day average roughly coincides with the March peak. Strong trading turnover in recent days suggests the resistance may break cleanly.


Dubai’s index jumped 2.1 percent to 4,172 points, its highest close in nearly five months. The benchmark has risen 29 percent from a trough hit exactly one month ago.

Trading focused on Bahraini investment firm Gulf Finance House, which surged its daily 15 percent limit, extending its recovery from record lows hit last month. The company completed a capital reduction last week, opening the way for possible dividend payments in future.

Property developer DAMAC surged 7.1 percent after announcing on Sunday it had a development site on Al Reem Island in Abu Dhabi and the project there, which was awaiting approvals, would have a sales value of about 1 billion dirhams ($272 million). It provided no further details.

Sanyalak Manibhandu, manager of research at NBAD Securities in Abu Dhabi, said Dubai investors were encouraged by strong results from United Arab Emirates banks which were mostly ahead of analysts’ forecasts and showed that the level of deposits had not suffered from oil’s plunge.

“The past three to four weeks have been very strong, the market seems to have passed fundamental and technical tests,” he said. “If it holds in the 4,100-4,200 area, you could see 4,500 (soon).”

Union Properties and Aramex which will register shareholders for dividend payouts this week, gained 2.7 and 3.1 percent respectively.

Abu Dhabi’s market added 0.8 percent thanks to Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, which jumped 2.2 percent. The lender posted a 31 percent leap in first-quarter profit last week, beating analysts’ forecasts.

Qatar’s index inched down 0.1 percent mostly because of top lender Qatar National Bank, which fell 1.0 percent on very low volume.

Property firms Ezdan Holding and United Development egded up 0.3 percent each ahead of earnings announcements. Ezdan posted a 13.4 percent increase in first-quarter profit after the close, while United Development said its profit had risen 8.5 percent.

Egypt’s index fell 1.1 percent with most stocks in the red.

The Cairo government said on Saturday it had extended by three months a state of emergency imposed on parts of northern Sinai in October after Islamist militants stepped up attacks in the peninsula bordering Israel, Gaza and the Suez Canal.

However, Egypt’s top cigarette maker Eastern Co bucked the trend and surged 2.3 percent after announcing that its nine-month net profit had risen 19.4 percent compared with the same period last year. The firm’s fiscal year starts in July.-Reuters