* Heavy turnover in Dubai is positive omen
* Banking shares boost Abu Dhabi on earnings trend
* Industries Qatar leads up local market after results
* Egypt's Orascom Construction may be near tax deal
* PetroRabigh fall slows in Saudi Arabia
By David French
DUBAI, April 23 Dubai's stock index closed above
2,000 points on Tuesday for the first time since November 2009,
boosted by optimism over corporate earnings, while most other
Gulf markets also ended in positive territory.
The Dubai index advanced 1.8 percent to 2,021
points, breaking above a psychologically important level and
taking year-to-date gains to 24.6 percent. It is the
best-performing market in the region in 2013, thanks to
increased optimism towards the emirate's economy as its real
estate market recovers from the 2009-2011 crash.
The high number of shares changing hands on Tuesday - 255.1
million - bodes well for further gains, said Marwan Shurrab,
vice president and chief trader at Gulfmena Investments.
"If we break 2,000 with good turnover, it will point towards
the second big rally of the year," he said.
Interest on Tuesday was mostly centred around mid-cap
stocks, with Air Arabia 4.1 percent higher and Dubai
Investments up 3.6 percent. They were the two most
heavily traded shares.
However, financial stocks continued their recent rise, with
Emirates NBD, which gained 2.5 percent, at a
nine-month high, and Dubai Islamic Bank, up 2.0
percent, flirting with a three-year peak.
In Abu Dhabi, banking shares also performed well, with Abu
Dhabi Commercial Bank advancing 4.9 percent to its
highest close since August 2008 and Union National Bank
up 4.2 percent.
First Gulf Bank advanced 2.3 percent to 15.40
dirhams, above a technical resistance level, according to Global
Investment House. "If it trades above 15.17 dirhams, we expect
it to continue rising and hit our price target of 15.63 dirhams
and 16.20 dirhams in the coming trading sessions," it said.
The Abu Dhabi index climbed 1.1 percent to its
highest close since October 2009.
After the close National Bank of Abu Dhabi, the
United Arab Emirates' largest lender by market value, confirmed
the strong trend in bank earnings by posting a 35.5 percent
increase in first-quarter net profit. It made 1.41 billion
dirhams ($383.9 million), well above analysts' average forecast
of 1.09 billion dirhams - though the jump was due to income from
investments and fees; loan growth stayed modest.
INDUSTRIES QATAR SURGES
Qatar's benchmark posted its biggest one-day advance
since Jan. 3 as it climbed 1.1 percent, helped by Industries
Qatar. The stock jumped 4.0 percent - its largest
one-day gain for more than two years - after posting
estimate-beating first-quarter earnings on Monday.
Kuwait also continued its upward trend, gaining 0.5
percent. It was the bourse's third straight gain and a fresh
"The market continues to push forth towards new boundaries,"
said Fouad Darwish, head of brokerage at Global Investment
"The fear of a market sell-off induced by profit-taking is no
longer as haunting as it used to be. But we also do not negate
the possibility nor the need for a correction movement in the
coming days," he said, adding that day traders in Kuwait were
helping to provide some cushion to any selling pressure.
Egypt's benchmark rose 0.4 percent, boosted by a
1.5 percent gain by heavyweight Orascom Construction.
The firm said in a statement on Tuesday that it was in
advanced talks with the Egyptian Tax Authority over the probe
into alleged tax evasion in the sale of Orascom Building, a
subsidiary, to French firm Lafarge.
Any resolution of the dispute, if it is perceived by the
market as fair to Orascom, could help to repair investor
confidence in authorities' attitude to the market as a whole -
besides potentially clearing the way for a buyout offer for
Orascom shares from its Amsterdam-listed affiliate to go ahead.
In Saudi Arabia, PetroRabigh dropped 2.4 percent,
compounding the 9.9 percent slump it suffered in the previous
session on poor first-quarter earnings and its warning that
second-quarter profit will be hit by a shutdown of its ethane
cracker for maintenance. The Saudi index closed flat.
Oman's index snapped a five-session losing streak,
gaining 0.2 percent.
* The index jumped 1.8 percent to 2,021 points.
* The benchmark climbed 1.1 percent to 3,188 points.
* The benchmark gained 1.1 percent to 8,535 points.
* The measure rose 0.5 percent to 7,174 points.
* The measure rose 0.4 percent to 5,237 points.
* The index ended flat at 7,124 points.
* The index edged up 0.2 percent to 6,143 points.
* The index edged down 0.2 percent to 1,086 points.