MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai's Depa surges on hopes for Arabtec stake hike
* Depa jumps 8.4 pct in weak overall market
* Qatar slips as investors prepare for January IPO
* Oman may also soon face big cash call
* Saudi Arabia hits 63-month high before state budget
* Insurance sector rebounding from 15-month low
By Nadia Saleem
DUBAI, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Shares in Dubai interior furnishing firm Depa surged to a near two-week high on Sunday because of bets that builder Arabtec might increase its stake in the firm. Qatar's market fell on plans for its first IPO since 2010.
Arabtec on Sunday said it was looking for investments, partnerships and acquisitions. It did not name potential targets but already owns a 24 percent stake in Depa, which it bought late in 2012.
Depa shares jumped 8.4 percent to their highest level since Dec. 9.
"Arabtec has more board members now on Depa - which gives an indication to the market of its interest in recapitalising and restructuring the company to benefit from the recovery in the real estate sector," said Marwan Shurrab, fund manager and head of trading at Vision Investments.
Arabtec shares ended flat, outperforming Dubai's index , which slipped 0.6 percent from Thursday's five-year high.
In Qatar, the benchmark slipped 0.6 percent to a two-week low as investors cut positions to free up cash for the initial public offer of Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding Co, a unit of state-owned energy giant Qatar Petroleum.
It will conduct a 3.2 billion riyal ($880 million) IPO of its shares in the local market next month, officials said on Sunday.
The offer is likely to attract solid demand, considering the strong performance of the Qatar market, said Shurrab.
"We're expecting IPOs to come in 2014, which makes sense after Qatar's year-to-date performance. Companies are well-positioned to capitalise from that. IPOs in Qatar and other regional markets will be the main focus in mid-2014."
Oman's index retreated 0.3 percent; that market may also soon face a major cash call, a planned $600 million sale by the government of a 19 percent stake in Oman Telecommunications .
The Oman Tribune quoted Muscat Securities Market director-general Ahmed bin Saleh Al- Marhoon as saying the sale was likely to occur this month.
In Saudi Arabia, the bourse climbed 0.5 percent to a 63-month high in a traditional year-end rally. The market has gained during December for the last three years.
Heavyweight lenders Al Rajhi Bank and Samba Financial Group climbed 1.0 and 1.5 percent respectively.
Saudi Arabia's 2014 state budget is expected to be announced on Monday, some Saudi media reported, and this could spur some buying in infrastructure-related firms. Also, analysts expect the market to rise ahead of full-year earnings announcements as investors position for annual dividend payments.
The insurance sector index rose 2.8 percent to a near four-month high. The sector - a favourite for investors looking to make quick profits - is rebounding from a 15-month low hit in September in response to tighter rules against speculation introduced by the Capital Market Authority.
"The insurance sector has witnessed a severe correction - investors will be split between speculators and longer-term investors," said Mohammad Omran, president of Riyadh-based private firm Gulf Centre for Financial Consultancy.
* The index slipped 0.6 percent to 3,225 points.
* The index advanced 0.2 percent to 4,146 points.
* The benchmark fell 0.6 percent to 10,403 points.
* The index gained 0.5 percent to 8,551 points.
* The index declined 0.2 percent to 6,736 points.
* The index climbed 0.3 percent to 7,626 points.
* The index retreated 0.3 percent to 6,801 points.
* The index ended flat at 1,206 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia)