MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi banks help lift mkt to fresh 11-mth high after Q1

DUBAI, April 10 Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:55am EDT

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DUBAI, April 10 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's banks rose on positive earnings surprise, helping lift the kingdom's bourse to a fresh 11-month high on Wednesday, while other regional markets were mixed.

Heavyweight Al Rajhi Bank advanced 0.8 percent. It posted a 2 percent rise in quarterly profit, marginally beating forecasts.

Shares in SABB climbed 4.1 percent and Saudi Hollandi Bank adds 3.7 percent. Both the lenders beat estimates for first-quarter net profit, attributing the growth in earnings to higher operating income.

"We believe that the most positive results were from Saudi Hollandi and SABB which reported strong results and were better than expected," said NCB Capital in a research note. "SABB's was particularly positive given the improvement in net interest margins, which we did not expect. We believe this bodes well for Samba which still did not report its first-quarter results."

Petrochemical shares also rose with the sector's index adding 0.4 percent.

The kingdom's benchmark climbed 0.7 percent to its highest since May 2012.

"Today's break validates our bullish call on the Saudi market and sets the stage for further gains," said Adel Merheb, managing partner at online advisory firm TradeYourMarket.com. "At the moment, 7,500 is looking like a probable and conservative target."

Elsewhere, Dubai's Emaar Properties slipped 1.8 percent, dragging the emirate's index from a 40-month high.

Shareholders approved its proposed 10 percent cash dividend for 2012, maintaining the same level as the previous two years and dashing investors' hopes the payout could be increased.

The developer triggers selling in other stocks that had rallied in recent sessions. Dubai Islamic Bank fell 3.1 percent, snapping a four-session rise. Arabtec shed 1.4 percent and Emirates NBD dipped 0.7 percent.

Dubai's index slipped 0.4 percent, trimming 2013 gains to 20.4 percent. It is down 69 percent from a 2008 peak.

"UAE markets are overall very cheap - there might be some correction but if you have a long-term view, we are at very low levels historically, so any correction is an opportunity to accumulate," said Zeki Muderrisoglu, fund manager and senior technical analyst at NBAD Asset Management.

The Dubai benchmark's next targets are 2,050 and 2,100, he adds.

Abu Dhabi's measure rallied for a fourth day, rising 0.9 percent to its highest close since October 2009.

In Kuwait, aircraft leasing company Alafco gained 3 percent after sources told Reuters the firm had hired Deutsche Bank to advise it on a potential sale of global depositary receipts in London.

Elsewhere, Egypt's bourse halted a four-session gain as investors booked gains in bluechips.

Orascom Construction Industries and Orascom Telecom lost 1.6 and 2 percent respectively. The index eased 0.08 percent.

WEDNESDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index climbed 0.7 percent to 7,238 points.

DUBAI

* The index slipped 0.4 percent to 1,956 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index rose 0.9 percent to 3,117 points.

EGYPT

* The index eased 0.08 percent to 5,153 points.

KUWAIT

* The index ticked up 0.06 percent to 6,948 points.

QATAR

* The index eased 0.08 percent to 8,511 points.

OMAN

The index gained 0.6 percent to 6,237 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index slipped 0.5 percent to 1,085 points.

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