* UAE buoyed by bullish Q1 earnings expectations
* Abu Dhabi posts biggest daily gain in over two years
* PetroRabigh down 10 pct on Q1 loss, closure for
* But Saudi generally strong, rebounds from chart support
* Kuwait up after opposition politician given bail
By David French
DUBAI, April 22 Markets in the United Arab
Emirates rose to multi-year highs as investors positioned
themselves for first-quarter earnings, while Saudi Arabia's
PetroRabigh plunged after posting a big first-quarter loss and
warning about second-quarter earnings.
Dubai's index advanced 1.4 percent on Monday to its
highest level since December 2009. UAE investors are now focused
on quarterly earnings, which begin in earnest this week, said
Amer Khan, fund manager at Shuaa Asset Management.
"From a valuation perspective, many UAE stocks are cheaper
than the rest of the region so you can see people building some
positions," he said, adding that earnings seen so far in the UAE
had been broadly positive.
One of those firms to have already reported, Dubai Islamic
Bank, was the session's biggest mover, jumping 5.9
percent. Blue chip Emaar Properties, which is expected
to report towards the end of this week, rose 1.3 percent.
In the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi's benchmark registered
its biggest one-day gain in more than two years, climbing 1.8
percent. The index, which closed at 3,153 points, is at its
highest level since November 2009.
Banks helped the advance, as First Gulf Bank broke
back above the 15.0 dirhams mark with a 3.8 percent gain. Abu
Dhabi Commercial Bank rose 3.1 percent; it is due to
report first-quarter results on Thursday. National Bank of Abu
Dhabi, which will publish earnings on Tuesday, rose
"The key thing for UAE banks has been the (2012) dividend
announcements, as investors have been getting good yields and
they also point to a positive earnings outlook," said Khan.
SAUDI MOSTLY FIRM
In Saudi Arabia, PetroRabigh slumped 9.9 percent,
dropping the permitted daily limit, after reporting a big loss
in the first quarter due to a major disruption in its supplies
of power and steam, and warning that its second-quarter earnings
would be hurt by a 12-day shutdown for maintenance at its ethane
Saudi Telecom, which reported disappointing
first-quarter earnings on Sunday, dipped 0.5 percent.
"Net profit has remained volatile in the past few quarters
due to one-off events ranging from revenue from sale of towers
to impairment charges relating to subsidiaries," said Global
Investment House in a note, adding that the company's earnings
before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) had
declined year-on-year for the last two quarters.
However, trading on the Saudi bourse was broadly
positive, with the Gulf region's largest exchange rising 0.4
percent to 7,124 points - its third successive gain.
Last week the index was pushed down by sliding global oil
prices but it tested and held chart support around 7,050 points,
which had acted as resistance in early March.
In Kuwait, the measure recovered early-session
losses to hit a new 29-month peak. It rose 0.3 percent, with
Zain and Boubyan Bank reversing falls in the
previous session with gains of 1.4 and 1.6 percent.
One positive for the market was news that a Kuwaiti appeals
court granted bail to a prominent opposition politician
convicted of insulting the ruling emir, which could help to
reduce political tensions.
The five-year sentence was not overturned but the court
ruled that Musallam al-Barrak should be released on bail of
5,000 dinars ($17,600) and that his defence team would have a
chance to argue his case next month, defence lawyer Dokki
al-Hasban told Reuters. The case has prompted street protests,
some of them resulting in confrontations between police and his
Egypt's benchmark declined for the second day this
week, slipping 0.7 percent. Telecom Egypt slumped 8.2
percent as the stock went ex-dividend; Palm Hills Development
dipped 1.8 percent and Ezz Steel fell 2.2
The International Monetary Fund and Egyptian officials said
late on Sunday they were working to reach a deal on a proposed
$4.8 billion loan in "coming weeks"; they cited progress in
weekend talks in Washington.
The IMF had previously avoided giving a time frame for
concluding the talks but it failed to impress the stock market,
suggesting investors feel a deal, when it finally comes, will
have only a limited impact in solving Egypt's economic problems.
Qatar's index climbed 0.2 percent. United Development
rose 2.4 percent after posting a 51 percent jump in
first-quarter net profit and announcing it would liquidate a
joint venture with Commercial Bank of Qatar.
Industries Qatar, which posted an estimate-beating
jump in first-quarter net profit after the market closed, rose
Oman's benchmark dipped 0.3 percent as financial
stocks continued to weigh; many have reported below-forecast
earnings for last quarter. Heavyweight Bank Muscat
slipped 0.5 percent and HSBC Oman dropped 1.5 percent.
* The index climbed 1.4 percent to 1,986 points.
* The index jumped 1.8 percent to 3,153 points.
* The index rose 0.4 percent to 7,124 points.
* The measure rose 0.3 percent to 7,141 points.
* The measure fell 0.7 percent to 5,215 points.
* The benchmark gained 0.2 percent to 8,443 points.
* The index fell 0.3 percent to 6,129 points.
* The index edged down 0.01 percent to 1,088 points.