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Gulf markets in celebration mood; Saudi at 6-year high

qatar stock exchangeAll markets in the Gulf edged up on Thursday, led by Saudi Arabia which rose to a six-year high on the back of petrochemicals and cement makers.

The kingdom’s main index gained 0.8 percent to 9,660 points, its highest close since June 2008. Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), up 2.6 percent, was the main support, also topping daily turnover.

Overall, Saudi petrochemicals gained 1.5 percent while cement makers rose 2.6 percent.

Shares in Saudi Public Transport Co (Saptco) jumped 2.8 percent after the company, together with a French partner, won a 7.86 billion riyal ($2.1 billion) contract to operate and maintain buses in Riyadh.

In Qatar, the index added 0.4 percent. Industries Qatar rose 2.5 percent, recovering further after a sell-off earlier this week which was triggered by a 38 percent drop in first-quarter net profit.

However, overall trading volume in Qatar roughly halved.

Dubai’s trading volume, on the other hand, rose about 50 percent as the benchmark gained 0.4 percent – but activity was still modest compared to most days in recent weeks.

Shares in Dubai Islamic Bank added 2.5 percent after its first-quarter profit doubled and the lender said it was in talks with an Islamic bank in Indonesia to take a 40 percent stake. It did not name the target.

Shares in Emaar Properties slipped 0.8 percent as they stopped carrying the 2013 dividend on Thursday and were diluted by the issuance of bonus stock.

Takaful Emarat jumped 35.7 percent, although the volume of trading was very low, reflecting the stock’s generally low liquidity. The Islamic insurer said last month it expected to post a profit for the first quarter of this year and an annual profit in 2014 for the first time since it was founded in 2008.

Abu Dhabi’s bourse rose 0.3 percent, largely on the back of Aldar Properties which added 3.2 percent, ending a six-session declining streak.

In Kuwait, the main index rose 0.3 percent, bouncing from a seven-month low, after the country’s market watchdog extended by 18 months a year-end deadline for listed companies to comply with new corporate governance rules.

The Capital Markets Authority said it realised that some firms would have struggled to be ready by the end of this year, which was the original deadline.-Reuters