MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf shares rebound as Russia-Ukraine tensions ease

Tue Mar 4, 2014 9:10am EST

Related Topics

* Softer rhetoric from Russia calms down markets

* But volatility likely to persist

* Saudi Arabia's SABIC up on new plant project

* Aldar helps lift Abu Dhabi after raising merger synergy estimates

* Egypt rallies as Sisi indicates will run for president

By Nadia Saleem

DUBAI, March 4 (Reuters) - Most regional markets bounced back on Tuesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops back to base and said he saw no need to use force in Crimea for now, and retail investors jumped at hopes of conflict easing in Ukraine.

Putin said, however, that Russia reserved the right to use force in the Crimea region as a "last resort".

The comments calmed jittery investor nerves in the Gulf, sending Saudi Arabia's measure up 1.4 percent in its biggest one-day gain in more than four months. The market recouped losses from the previous day and rose to a new five-year high.

Trading volumes on the Saudi exchange surged to a near six-month high, taking traded value to almost 9 billion riyals ($2.4 billion).

Brent crude surged almost $3 to rise above $111 per barrel on Monday but has fallen back to $109.82 per barrel at 1032 GMT.

"Higher oil prices helped Saudi Arabia yesterday and also its performance this year has been steady and not as stretched as some other regional markets," said Sebastien Henin, head of asset management at The National Investor in Abu Dhabi.

"There is still uncertainty if it's just a tactical move by Putin - markets could remain volatile in coming days," Henin said.

The petrochemical sector measure added 1.3 percent with Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) up 1.1 percent after the government said it would build, together with SABIC, a plant able to turn crude directly into chemicals, without first having to refine the oil.

Shares in developer Jabal Omar jumped 7.1 percent, taking its 2014 gains to 49.3 percent, far outpacing benchmark gains of 7.2 percent. Dar Al Arkan climbed 3.4 percent.

Dubai's bourse was volatile but closed up 0.4 percent, while Abu Dhabi recovered 1.3 percent.

Aldar Properties climbed 1.0 percent after it raised the estimate of the value of synergies from its merger with previous rival Sorouh by 45 percent to 145-150 million dirhams ($39.5-40.9 million) annually.

In Qatar, the measure shed 0.7 percent, its fifth straight loss to hit its lowest since Feb. 16.

Shares in Masraf Al Rayan slid 4.2 percent and Doha Bank tumbled 9.1 percent. Both shares have passed the date when shareholders would qualify for dividends.

Mesaieed Petrochemical dropped its daily limit of 10 percent for a third consecutive session since listing. The stock surged far above estimated fair value on its debut in heavy retail buying last Wednesday.

Elsewhere, Cairo's measure rose 1.0 percent after army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi sent the clearest signal yet that he will run for president. Sisi, widely expected to win the presidency of the Arab world's most populous country, said he could not ignore the demands of the "majority".

TUESDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index advanced 1.4 percent to 9,149 points.

EGYPT

* The index rose 1.0 percent to 7,934 points.

DUBAI

* The index climbed 0.4 percent to 4,121 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index rose 1.3 percent to 4,920 points.

QATAR

* The index slipped 0.7 percent to 11,588 points.

KUWAIT

* The index gained 0.5 percent to 7,532 points.

OMAN

* The index ended flat at 7,098 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index gained 0.2 percent to 1,368 points.

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