MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi shares rise; most Gulf mkts up on global cues

Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:28am EST

Related Topics

* Saudi index climbs 0.6 pct, recovers losses from the week

* Abu Dhabi measure rose to 65 month high

* Dubai slips on profit-taking

By Nadia Saleem and Raya Atallah

DUBAI, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's shares rose on Wednesday, buoyed by a recovery in global markets as investor focus returned to local fundamentals, while most other regional markets also gained.

Asian and European shares rebound and Turkey's lira saw its biggest jump in five years on Wednesday after the central bank stunned investors with a huge rate hike designed to staunch and reverse a major flight from risk.

Gulf sentiment was supported, despite there being little local vulnerability to emerging market jitters since its external and fiscal surpluses are independently strong.

Saudi Arabia's index climbed 0.6 percent, recovering some of the losses from earlier this week when the market came off a five-year high.

Shares in Samba Financial Group jumped 3.4 percent to a four-week closing high after the board proposed to issue one bonus share for every three held, according to a bourse statement.

Samba lifted sentiment across the banking sector - its index rose 1.1 percent, the main support for the market. The petrochemical sector measure added 0.2 percent.

"The market rebound is a spillover effect from international markets," said Muhammad Faisal Potrik, research analyst at Riyad Capital. "Valuations for many major companies are nearing target price and it's getting harder for analysts to give stock recommendations. Upside seems capped at current levels, but having said that, investors remain bullish for 2014."

In the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi's measure rose 1.6 percent to a 65-month high. First Gulf Bank was the main driver, gaining 3.5 percent in buying ahead of earnings and dividend announcements expected later on Wednesday.

The lender reported a 19 percent rise in fourth-quarter next profit after the markets closed and its board recommended a cash dividend of one dirham per share and 30 percent in bonus shares for 2013.

"What's playing a major role is sentiment across global markets - nevertheless, Q4 numbers and distribution are playing a supporting role," said Marwan Shurrab, fund manager and head of trading at Vision Investments.

"Up until the company announcements, you'll see the market attracting investors to build positions on weakness."

Dubai's benchmark slipped 0.3 percent after a choppy session in which it briefly touched a five-year high.

Profit-taking in bellwether Emaar Properties shares weighed - the stock fell 1.7 percent, coming off a five-year high following Tuesday's 6.3 percent surge on what traders said was speculation over a development project in Dubai.

Elsewhere, Oman's Bank Muscat added 0.6 percent after saying it proposed a 40 percent dividend for 2013, 25 percent in cash and 15 percent in mandatory convertible bonds.

WEDNESDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index climbed 0.6 percent to 8,704 points.

DUBAI

* The index slipped 0.3 percent to 3,793 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index advanced 1.6 percent to 4,660 points.

QATAR

* The index gained 0.7 percent to 11,243 points.

OMAN

* The index slipped 0.4 percent to 7,117 points.

EGYPT

* The index edged up 0.08 percent to 7,374 points.

KUWAIT

* The index rose 0.2 percent to 7,768 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index gained 1.0 percent to 1,290 points.

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