MIDEAST STOCKS-Property-related shares lift UAE; regional shares mixed

DUBAI Thu Jan 16, 2014 8:20am EST

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DUBAI Jan 16 (Reuters) - Markets in the United Arab Emirates rose on Thursday as investors bought property-related stocks ahead of quarterly earnings, while regional bourses were mixed.

Dubai builder Arabtec jumped 4.9 percent, leading trading volumes to hit its highest close since September 2008.

Analysts polled by Reuters on average forecast Arabtec will post a 151 percent rise in earnings.

Dubai's index rose 1.2 percent in its sixth consecutive gain to reach a new five-year high.

"UAE markets are taking their natural course - people are focused on earnings, which will dictate market direction in the coming weeks," said Amer Khan, head of asset management at Shuaa Asset Management.

Abu Dhabi's Aldar Properties surged 8.3 percent to 3.25 dirhams, its highest level since June 2010. Naeem Holding estimates Aldar's fourth-quarter profit will increase by 48 percent.

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 would be issued to owners.

Abu Dhabi did not give details of the freehold arrangement or explain exactly how it differed from other property rights in Abu Dhabi, and officials have not been available to elaborate on the announcement.

"Some investors might think it's freehold like in Dubai and be getting ahead of themselves, but there needs to be more clarity to price in the impact on earnings, if any," Khan said.

Aldar's technical breakout above the August peak of 2.96 dirhams and the stock's lagging performance compared with its peers have helped fuel its recent rally, said Hisham Khairy, head of trading on the institutional desk at MENA Corp.

Abu Dhabi's benchmark rose 1.3 percent, taking its January's gains to 5.4 percent.

Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia's index climbed 0.2 percent to a fresh five-year high.

In Egypt, the measure fell 0.8 percent to 7,144 points, easing from Wednesday's three-year high as it failed to break above the January 2011 peak of 7,248 points.

About 90 percent of voters approved the country's new constitution in a referendum, the state news agency and a government official said. This is widely expected to lead to army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the market's preference, declaring his candidacy for president.

Many analysts and investors said the constitution approval was already priced in.

Car assembler GB Auto rose 2.8 percent after it said it had agreed an exclusive local distributorship deal for lubricants with Gazprom Neft.

In Qatar, Masraf Al Rayan climbed 1 percent after the sharia-compliant bank said it completed its acquisition of Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB).

Doha's index rose for a 13th straight session, its longest winning streak since April 2008.

Qatar's upgrade to emerging market status by index compiler MSCI, which will be implemented in May and is forecast to attract about $500 million in additional benchmark global funds, as well as developments in preparation to host the 2022 World Cup underpin bullish sentiment for Doha-listed equities.

Kuwait's bourse was closed for a public holiday.

THURSDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

DUBAI

* The index climbed 0.8 percent to 3,609 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index rose 1.3 percent to 4,521 points.

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index advanced 0.2 percent to 8,761 points.

EGYPT

* The index retreated 0.8 percent to 7,144 points.

QATAR

* The index advanced 0.3 percent to 11,106 points.

OMAN

* The index slipped 0.2 percent to 7,140 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index declined 0.3 percent to 1,269 points.

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