February 12, 2018 / 2:41 PM / 7 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi surges on petchems as global trend pulls region up slightly

* Money flows into high-priced Saudi petchems

* Suggests strong institutional buying support for market

* Dubai’s Air Arabia outperforms after Q4 earnings

* TAQA soars in Abu Dhabi

* Ex-dividend QNB pulls down Qatar’s index

By Andrew Torchia

DUBAI, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Most Middle Eastern stock markets rebounded on Monday, with Saudi Arabia leading the recovery on the back of petrochemical stocks, as global equities and oil prices regained some strength after last week’s tumble.

The Saudi index surged 1.3 percent as all 14 petrochemical stocks rose. The biggest, Saudi Basic Industries , added 1.7 percent.

The strength of high-priced petrochemical stocks such as SABIC suggested there was good institutional buying support for the market ahead of catalysts expected later this year, including MSCI’s decision in June on whether to label Saudi Arabia an emerging market, and FTSE’s similar decision in March.

Investment bank EFG Hermes said January had seen the highest net foreign fund inflows into Middle Eastern and North African equities since April 2015, of $1 billion; Saudi Arabia accounted for the lion’s share, $703 million, through swaps and qualified foreign institutional investors.

Among other blue-chip gainers, Al Rajhi Bank climbed 2.2 percent.

Trade Union Cooperative Insurance surged 5.2 percent after reporting an 87 percent leap in fourth-quarter net profit, as gross written premiums increased 35 percent. But Salama Cooperative Insurance fell 0.9 percent after quarterly profit shrank 6 percent.

In Dubai, the index edged down 0.2 percent as amusement park operator DXB Entertainments fell 0.5 percent after reporting its net loss widened to 1.12 billion dirhams ($305 million) last year from 485 million dirhams in 2016.

But Air Arabia, the most heavily traded stock, rose 0.8 percent after swinging to a fourth-quarter profit of 26 million dirhams from a year-ago loss of 33 million dirhams. However, SICO Bahrain had forecast a much higher profit of 68 million dirhams.

Abu Dhabi’s index rose 0.6 percent as Abu Dhabi National Energy Co shot up 11.9 percent in its heaviest trade since last August. It has been rising since it reported at the end of last week that it swung back into the black last year.

In Qatar, the index dropped 0.6 percent, dragged down by Qatar National Bank, which lost 4.6 percent as it went ex-dividend.

Telecommunications firm Ooredoo sank 5.4 percent after saying annual net profit fell 10 percent as currency depreciations in some markets dented revenue, although fourth-quarter profit climbed 13 percent.

But overall, gaining Qatari stocks far outnumbered losers by 29 to 12, with Gulf Warehousing rising 3.5 percent.

SAUDI ARABIA

* Index surged 1.3 percent to 7,426 points.

DUBAI

* Index fell 0.2 percent to 3,315 points.

ABU DHABI

* Index rose 0.6 percent to 4,610 points.

QATAR

* Index dropped 0.6 percent to 8,988 points.

EGYPT

* Index rose 0.4 percent to 14,891 points.

KUWAIT

* Index climbed 1.0 percent to 6,707 points.

BAHRAIN

* Index gained 1.0 percent to 1,347 points.

OMAN

* Index rose 0.2 percent to 5,003 points. (Editing by William Maclean)

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