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DUBAI, SAUDI HIT NEW HIGHS

Gulf stocks surge as Fed tapering adds fuel to fire

Dubai, December 19, 2013

Gulf shares rose on Thursday after a modest stimulus trimming by the US Federal Reserve and gains on global markets added fuel to bullish local sentiment and Egypt's bourse also climbed.

The region was never very vulnerable to tighter US monetary policy - its current account and budget surpluses insulate it - but a positive global backdrop aided risk appetite.

Saudi Arabia's index climbed 0.8 percent to 8,510 points - a new 63-month high and extending the breakout from the year's previous peak of 8,425 points.

The heavyweight petrochemicals and banking sectors were the main support. Saudi Basic Industries Corp and Al Rajhi Bank added 1.4 and 0.7 percent respectively.

"We have fourth-quarter earnings around the corner and we're seeing some dividend announcements trickling in," said Asim Bukhtiar, head of research at Riyad Capital. "Additionally, the US markets responded well to the Fed decision, pushing the local markets in reaction to that."

Analysts are expecting some weakness from banks' earnings, with the last quarter of the year typically reserved for booking provisions, but petrochemical firms could see healthy profit growth backed by strong demand from Asia.

In the UAE, Dubai's bourse hit a new five-year high, rising 1.1 percent to take 2013 gains to 99.9 percent - among the top-performing world equity markets.

Property-related shares led gains with Deyaar Development up 2.2 percent and Emaar Properties 2.1 percent higher.

A sharp recovery in local property prices and demand underpins confidence in Dubai equities, with outlook buoyed by catalysts such as an MSCI upgrade to emerging market status next year and Dubai's successful bid to host World Expo 2020.

Abu Dhabi-listed Dana Gas surged 9.4 percent to its highest level since Oct. 1., with the number of shares changing hands the most for any day in at least two years.

A source told IFR, a Thomson Reuters unit, a consortium led by the UAE firm is prepared to get a Turkish court to seize assets belonging to the Kurdistan Region Government in Iraq and enforce an arbitration claim.

Abu Dhabi's benchmark advanced 1.1 percent to a new 63-month high, taking 2013 gains to 57.3 percent.

In Egypt, the benchmark index gained 0.4 percent, hitting a fresh high since January 2011, with Juhayna Food and Amer Group rising 3.7 and 1.4 percent respectively.

"Investors are eyeing stocks with high growth potential," said Ashraf Akhnoukh, co-head of MENA sales trading at CIBC Brokerage. "Our short to medium-term outlook is positive, driven by catalysts such as the constitutional referendum in January, followed by elections which should comfort investors as it shows that we are following the set political roadmap."

The finance minister on Monday announced plans for a second economic stimulus package worth around 30 billion Egyptian pounds ($4.4 billion), boosting further improving sentiment.

Elsewhere, Kuwait's index climbed 0.4 percent and Oman's benchmark added 0.2 percent.-Reuters




Tags: US | Fed | Gulf stocks |

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