* Saudi Arabia’s bourse strongest in region
* Follows oil price recovery, IPO progress
* Dubai follows, aided by Emaar
* Index broke technical resistance last week
* Most regional markets little changed
By Olzhas Auyezov
DUBAI, March 23 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s bourse led the region on Sunday, recovering from last week’s weakness to hit a five-year high with gains in most sectors as global oil prices stabilised.
The index rose 1.3 percent to 9,425 points, its highest level since July 2008. Most stocks closed in the black, including petrochemicals, banks, cement makers and food producers.
“Optimistic sentiment and anticipation of first-quarter results” were the most likely reasons for the rally, said Farooq Waheed, senior portfolio manager at Riyad Capital.
The Saudi index, which includes several large petrochemical companies such as Saudi Basic Industries, eased throughout last week as oil prices retreated. Brent crude , however, partly recovered on Friday.
In positive news for the long-term development of the market, two Saudi companies - water and power project developer ACWA Power IPO-ACPO.SE and the kingdom’s largest lender, National Commercial Bank IPO-NACO.SE - revealed steps towards listing their shares last Thursday.
Meanwhile, Dubai’s bourse rose 1.0 percent, aided by Emaar Properties, which resumed last week’s rally and added 1.6 percent, although Sunday’s trading volume was significantly lower than last week. Emaar’s recent rally has been triggered by the announcement of a dividend hike and a plan to list its shopping mall subsidiary.
The main Dubai index closed at 4,347 points; last week it broke above technical resistance at 4,242-4,255 points, the February peaks. There is now no significant chart resistance nearby.
Among other gainers in Dubai were property developer Deyaar and construction firms Arabtec Holding and Drake and Scull.
Real estate investment trust Emirates REIT said on Sunday that it had set the price range for its initial public offer of shares at $1.36 to $1.56 per share, and expects the listing on Nasdaq Dubai to occur around the middle of April. It would be Dubai’s first IPO since 2009.
Bahrain’s index climbed 0.8 percent, largely on the back of Arab Banking Corp, which jumped 7.1 percent. The stock surged last month after news that the bank was hiring Standard Chartered banker Ray Ferguson as its group chief banking officer; it then retreated and is now climbing back to the recent peak.
* The index gained 1.3 percent to 9,425 points.
* The index added 1.0 percent to 4,347 points.
* The index edged up 0.2 percent to 4,795 points.
* The index eased 0.2 percent to 11,340 points.
* The index slipped 0.1 percent to 8,451 points.
* The index slid 0.2 percent to 6,916 points.
* The index fell 0.2 percent to 7,542 points.
* The index gained 0.8 percent to 1,397 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia)