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Doha/DUBAI: Most Middle East bourses rose yesterday as bargain hunters bought banking stocks following early-week declines.
Banks results in Saudi Arabia and Qatar have failed to impress investors, but three straight losses on both markets have enticed some buyers back in at lower prices.
Saudi Arabia’s index rose 0.3 percent to 7,036 points, steadying around a psychological support level at 7,000 points. It hit a four-month closing high of 7,166 points on Saturday.
“Banks so far reported moderate growth and the only solid numbers were in smaller banks - investors are now waiting for the bluechips to report,” said Hesham Tuffaha, a fund manager at a Saudi investment firm.
Heavyweight Saudi Basic Industries Corp (Sabic) gained 0.3 percent and Al Rajhi Bank climbed 1.8 percent. Both firms have yet to declare their quarterly results.
Other banks also advanced, with the sector’s index closing 0.9 percent higher to claw back some of this week’s losses.
“I see the market as slightly oversold — I expect in the next two weeks to move towards 7,300 points again,” added Tuffaha.
In Doha, the benchmark climbed 0.5 percent, up 2.6 percent so far in January.
Qatar National Bank (QNB) rose 0.5 percent, Commercial Bank of Qatar added 0.8 percent and Doha Bank gained 0.6 percent.
Sentiment was weak in Qatar after QNB set a 60 percent cash dividend, equivalent to QR6 per share, that disappointed retail investors due to a lack of bonus shares.
Foreign interest in Doha stocks has increased this year after a lull in 2012, although many investors are waiting for Qatar to move ahead with infrastructure projects planned as part of the country’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
“Outflows of foreign funds were significant last year and despite recent inflows, it’s a drop in the ocean,” said Anastasios Dalgiannakis, institutional trading manager at Mubasher. “There is scope for more gains but we need some concrete signs.”
Elsewhere, Dubai’s top lender Emirates NBD lifted the emirate’s bourse, with its shares surging 6.4 percent.
The bank will hold an analyst meeting later this month and is expected to post quarterly earnings earlier than usual.
“There’s been a focus on bank valuations and Emirates NBD is a lot cheaper in a peer group with National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) and First Gulf Bank (FGB),” said an Abu Dhabi-based trader.
“If there’s good news from the bank, ENBD will get massively re-rated because it has been a laggard.”
Dubai’s index climbed 0.4 percent, up for a second session in the last four since hitting a two-year high on Thursday.
Abu Dhabi-listed NBAD rose 1.3 percent and FGB slipped 0.8 percent.
Abu Dhabi’s benchmark dipped 0.2 percent, down from Tuesday’s 26-month high.
Egypt’s measure climbed 0.6 percent, up for a second session in the last five.
Shares in Talaat Moustafa advanced 1.2 percent, giving back some of their intraday gains after an early-session surge. A court postponed a case over the disputed sale of land for the property developer’s flagship Madinaty project till April 16.
Non-Arab foreigners were net buyers, while Egyptians were net sellers. Reuters