May 5, 2014 / 2:16 PM / 3 years ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Banks lift UAE, Qatar mkts; Saudi Arabia retreats

* Qatar’s bourse closes at all-time high

* Investors bet on Vodafone Qatar turning profitable

* Dubai Islamic Bank makes more gains after doubling Q1 profit

* Arab Banking Corporation lifts Bahrain

* Saudi stocks pull back after strong gains

By Olzhas Auyezov

DUBAI, May 5 (Reuters) - Banking stocks helped Qatar close at a fresh all-time high on Monday and lifted the markets in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, while Saudi Arabia pulled back after two days of strong gains.

The Doha benchmark gained 1.0 percent and closed at 12,988 points, above previous closing high of 12,940 hit last month. It may face resistance at the psychologically important 13,000 point level or the historical intra-day high of 13,069 points reached in 2005.

“Once the market breaks that, we may see some more upside,” said Shakeel Sarwar, head of asset management at Securities & Investment Co (SICO) in Bahrain.

Qatar National Bank was the main support, gaining 1.8 percent. Among other contributors were Industries Qatar , up 1.7 percent, and Qatari Investors Group, which rose 6.4 percent.

Sarwar said the upswing reflected the “general bullish mood among investors in the region”.

Shares in mobile operator Vodafone Qatar rose 3.5 percent on Monday, bringing year-to-date gains to 75.6 percent. Some investors believe the company, which has reported losses since it was listed in 2009, will turn profitable soon.

Unlike other Qatari firms, it will publish its quarterly earnings in early June. The combined profit of other listed companies in Qatar grew 8.6 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, according to the bourse.


Dubai’s bourse gained 1.6 percent, led by Dubai Islamic Bank, which added 6.3 percent.

The lender’s shares have been rising since last Thursday when it posted a doubling of first-quarter net profit and said it was in talks to buy a 40 percent stake in an Indonesian Islamic lender.

Another local lender, Mashreq, jumped 8.0 percent. However, such large moves are common for the stock due to its limited free float and liquidity.

Dubai Investments gained 0.2 percent after confirming a 26 percent jump in first-quarter profit and announcing asset sale plans.

Abu Dhabi’s index rose 0.6 percent, buoyed by First Gulf Bank, whose shares were up 1.5 percent. RAKBank , Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Commercial Bank International and United Arab Bank were also among the main supports.

In Bahrain, Arab Banking Corporation (ABC) continued its bull run, adding 6.9 percent. The stock has risen by 54 percent since the end of March as it drew the attention of regional bargain-hunters.

At a price-to-book ratio of 0.6, ABC is one of the cheapest lenders in the region.

Saudi Arabia’s main index edged down 0.2 percent as several stocks that had driven the upswing for the last three sessions retreated.

Among them were petrochemicals giant Saudi Basic Industries , which slid 0.6 percent, Yamamah Cement, down 2.9 percent, and Mecca developer Jabal Omar, which lost 0.7 percent.



* The index rose 1.6 percent to 5,331 points.


* The index gained 0.6 percent to 5,091 points.


* The index climbed 1.0 percent to 12,988 points.


* The index slid 0. percent to 9,741 points.


* The index slipped 0.03 percent to 8,306 points.


* The index slipped 0.6 percent to 7,379 points.


* The index rose 1.1 percent to 1,456 points.


* The index fell 0.06 percent to 6,760 points. (Editing by Praveen Menon)

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