Gulf markets up on global cues

Reuters, Sunday 28 Aug 2011

Most other Gulf markets ended higher as regional investors were optimistic following US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech on Friday

Oman's index climbed to a three-week high on Sunday, as local pension fund buying boosted the battered market, while other regional markets also rose amid muted trading ahead of the extended Eid Al Fitr holidays.

The Gulf state's index ended 2.1 per cent up, its highest close since 4 August, with most bluechip stocks advancing. The index has fallen 17 per cent year-to-date.

"We are seeing a lot of money coming in from local pension funds as well as some foreign investors," said Adel Nasr, brokerage manager at United Securities in Muscat.

"Banks are particularly in demand and we see this sector being the best performer," he added.

Top lender Bank Muscat climbed 3.1 per cent and smaller rival Bank Sohar surged 7.6 per cent.

Oman's regulator, Capital Market Authority, is encouraging consolidation of brokerages and expects at least three to four initial public offerings next year, an executive said last week.

Oil services firm Renaissance Services also jumped by 10 per cent in a sharp return following its slump. The stock had plummeted to a 2009-low after it discovered financial fraud at unit Topaz and reported a 77 per cent drop in first-half net profit.

"We are seeing a relief rally in Renaissance after investors see that the issues surrounding the firm will not result in a total loss for the company," says Nasr.

Most other Gulf markets ended higher as regional investors were optimistic following Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech on Friday. Volumes, however, remained thin.

World stocks rose 1 per cent and the dollar fell on Friday as Bernanke left the door open for future U.S. economic stimulus. He said the central bank's policy panel would meet for two days in September instead of one to discuss additional monetary stimulus, offering some hope to investors.

Oil prices also rose in choppy trade as Hurricane Irene targeted the U.S. East Coast and traders weighed Bernanke's comments.

Bluechip stocks, especially from the property sector, led the rally as Dubai's index closed at a two-week high.

The index closed 0.7 per cent higher at 1475 points, its highest close since 14 August.

Bellwether Emaar Properties , the United Arab Emirates' largest developer by market value, climbed 1 per cent.

However, investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of the long Eid Al Fitr holidays.

"Volumes were extremely subdued, which is typical of the prior-Eid holidays period," said Haissam Arabi, chief executive and fund manager at Gulfmena Alternative Investments.

"The region is very much connected with what's happening globally. It all depends on what happens what happens now globally. The volumes have been low in the region as no one wants to take any chances."

In Abu Dhabi, developer Aldar Properties gained 1.7 per cent and Sorouh Real Estate added 2.6 per cent.

"Real estate stocks are the bluechips in these markets and so they have been the best performers," said Arabi.

Qatari lender Masraf Al Rayan climbed 2.8 per cent, helping the Doha index to its highest close since 4 August.

The index ended 1.4 per cent. Kuwait index traded flat.

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