MIDEAST STOCKS-Earnings lift Saudi to new five-yr high; regional shares gain
DUBAI Jan 15 (Reuters) - Upbeat earnings in Saudi Arabia helped lift the market to a new five-year high on Wednesday, while other regional shares also gained.
Saudi Arabia's Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) rose 2.9 percent to 88.5 riyals and trading volumes jumped to their highest in three years after the firm beat analysts' forecasts with an 8.6 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit.
The stock jumped to a seven-year intraday high of 90 riyals but failed to break resistance from 88.50 and 89 riyals - the peaks of November and August 2013 respectively.
Mobily cited the profit growth on increased revenue from corporate customers along with data income.
"We believe the corporate segment will provide the next phase of growth for Mobily with the segment expected to contribute 28 percent of total revenues by 2018," Abdulelah Babgi, analyst at NCB Capital, said in a note. "Moreover, Mobily expects the revenue from the data segment to continue growing and contribute 32 percent of the total revenues in 2014."
Small-cap Atheeb Telecom surged 9.7 percent after Mobily's results. The latter is in talks with four shareholders of Atheeb to buy their majority stake, with a deadline to secure a deal of Jan. 30 fast approaching.
Samba Financial Group climbed 2.5 percent after posting a fourth-quarter net profit rise of 15.8 percent year-on-year, broadly in line with estimates.
The bank helped push the banking sector index 0.4 percent higher. However, it still underperformed against the main index, which climbed 0.6 percent to its highest close since September 2008.
In the United Arab Emirates, Aldar Properties rose 3.1 percent to 3 dirhams per share, its highest since June 2010, after the Abu Dhabi Municipality said in a statement late on Tuesday that it had registered land development contracts for Aldar's residential units under freehold ownership, and the deeds will be issued to owners.
"Aldar is the biggest government-owned property developer (in Abu Dhabi) and it will always benefit when the government wants to do something," said Sanyalaksna Manibhandu, senior analyst at NBAD Securities.
Manibhandu also said the stock had been lagging its Dubai peer Emaar Properties and was playing catch-up. His target price for Aldar is 3.5 dirhams.
The Abu Dhabi Municipality did not give details of the freehold arrangement or explain exactly how it differed from other property rights in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi's benchmark climbed 0.5 percent, up for a first session since Monday's five-year high.
Dubai's measure advanced 0.3 percent to a fresh five-year high. Builder Arabtec jumped 5.2 percent.
Elsewhere, Qatar National Bank slipped 2 percent off of Tuesday's record high after the region's largest bank posted earnings which slightly trailed estimates.
Other large-cap stocks gained, helping lift Doha's index by 0.2 percent in its twelfth consecutive rise.
Elsewhere, Kuwait's index climbed 0.6 percent, halting a three-session dip, while Oman's bourse added 0.3 percent, hovering just below Sunday's five-year high.
* The index advanced 0.6 percent to 8,745 points.
* The index climbed 0.5 percent to 4,465 points.
* The index gained 0.3 percent to 3,580 points.
* The index advanced 0.2 percent to 11,076 points.
* The index climbed 0.6 percent to 7,665 points.
* The index gained 0.3 percent to 7,156 points.
* The index edged up 0.03 percent to 7,199 points.
* The index gained 0.3 percent to 1,273 points.
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