February 24, 2014 / 2:55 PM / in 4 years

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi at 67-mth high as property cos gain; most of region firm

* Some money shifting from Saudi blue chips to property cos

* Dubai recovers from profit-taking before close

* Arabtec bounces after Reuters report on Kuwait M&A

* Kuwait slumps before three-day holiday

* Egypt not worried by government’s resignation

By Raya Atallah and Nadia Saleem

DUBAI, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s bourse rose to a 67-month high on Monday as investors shifted funds towards real estate shares, while most other regional markets closed on a positive note.

The Saudi real estate sector’s index gained 3.7 percent; developer Jabal Omar jumped 5.5 percent. Investors tend to shift from blue chips after earnings season towards other sectors that may have more upside.

Petrochemical shares edged up with Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) climbing 0.2 percent.

“Saudi petchems are trading at reasonable valuations - they should do well in the medium term with good dividend support,” said Nitin Garg, petrochemical analyst at SICO Bahrain.

“Product prices will remain strong because supply is limited and demand is growing. SABIC and Tasnee (National Industrialisation ) are trading at attractive valuations, while others are at fair prices.”

The wider index climbed 0.4 percent to its highest level since July 2008.

In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai’s bourse recovered sharp losses driven by profit-taking to end flat at 4,124 points, bouncing from an intra-day low of 4,026 points.

“Based on how fast the market has been going up, we need a correction for the long-term uptrend to be sustainable,” said Bruce Powers, technical analyst and president at WideVision. Any close below last week’s low of 4,098 points would increase the chance of a significant pull-back, he added.

Retail investors’ favourite Union Properties led gains, up 4.7 percent after the firm’s board recommended lifting its foreign ownership limit to 25 percent - though current foreign ownership is only 4.35 percent.

Construction firm Arabtec gained 0.8 percent, rebounding from intra-day losses after sources told Reuters that the firm was in the advanced stages of talks to fully acquire a construction company in Kuwait’s Kharafi Group.

Abu Dhabi’s bourse came off lows to gain 0.2 percent. After soaring in the past 12 months it is now moving sideways, and Powers expects it to remain choppy for the time being.

Kuwait’s bourse retreated 0.5 percent, slumping to its lowest level since Jan. 19 in its fourth straight loss, ahead of a three-day public holiday.

Kuwait-listed shares in Bahraini firm Gulf Finance House slipped 1.6 percent, although the company posted fourth-quarter net profit that more than doubled. Its Bahrain-listed shares tumbled 6.5 percent.

In Qatar, Gulf International Services (GISS) surged 8.9 percent to a record high after its board proposed a full-year dividend of 2 riyals per share, up from 1.5 riyals in 2012. But the firm posted a higher fourth-quarter net loss of 211 million riyals ($58 million).

GISS was the main support for the Qatari index, which ticked up 0.1 percent to a 67-month high.


Cairo’s benchmark advanced 0.5 percent, closing above the psychologically important level of 8,000 points for a second session.

Real estate firm Amer Group jumped 10 percent, leading trading activity after the board recommended 0.3 Egyptian pounds of cash dividend for 2013 and 0.5 bonus share for each share held. The developer posted a 79 percent drop in net profit for 2013.

Egypt’s government unexpectedly resigned on Monday; Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi did not give a clear reason for the decision. But the resignation did not appear to be due to a crisis and it did not affect the market. It may actually be seen as positive, by paving the way for army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to declare his candidacy for president.



* The index advanced 0.4 percent to 9,057 points.


* The index edged up 0.02 percent to 4,124 points.


* The index gained 0.2 percent to 4,883 points.


* The index slipped 0.5 percent to 7,693 points.


* The index rose 0.8 percent to 1,387 points.


* The index ticked up 0.1 percent to 11,900 points.


* The index slipped 0.4 percent to 7,109 points.


* The index climbed 0.5 percent to 8,046 points.

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