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MIDEAST STOCKS-UAE hits new peaks on property sentiment

Wednesday, 3 Oct 2012 | 10:24 AM ET

By David French

DUBAI, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Dubai's bourse hit its highest level in five months, while Abu Dhabi's index ended at a fresh 14-month high, as confidence in the reviving local property market boosted real estate stocks.

The Dubai index jumped 1.2 percent to its highest close since May 1.

Property stocks recovered from Tuesday's dip with Emaar Properties up 2.5 percent, Union Properties climbing 1.8 percent and Tamweel gaining 1.6 percent.

Four years after Dubai's real estate bubble burst in 2008, sending prices down 60 percent, areas of the emirate's property market have shown signs of recovery in recent months.

This optimism was reinforced at a large property show in Dubai this week as developers unveiled billion-dollar projects and new high-end residential developments.

"If you get names like Emaar, Arabtec, Deyaar and Drake and

Scull moving then this creates a positive impact on the wider bourse," said Julian Bruce, EFG Hermes' director of institutional equity sales.

Bruce added the market was also boosted by the news that Vanguard Group, one of the largest mutual fund providers in the United States, would switch to using FTSE Group from MSCI for benchmarking, opening up stocks in the United Arab Emirates and Egypt to their funds.

While FTSE classifies both as emerging markets, MSCI ranks them as frontier markets.

"The timing remains uncertain but this type of event is always a catalyst for increased speculative activity," he said.

Abu Dhabi's measure gained 0.2 percent, advancing further from the previous day's highest close since Aug 4 2011.

The two property firms whose proposed merger has driven positive sentiment on the bourse in recent days, Aldar Properties and Sorouh Real Estate , rose 1.5 and 0.8 percent respectively.

Saudi Arabia's bourse , which had gained for three sessions since Saturday's two-month low, slipped back on Wednesday, ending the final trading day of the week down 0.1 percent.

Volumes slumped once more with around 145 million shares traded on the benchmark.

Arab National Bank fell 1.1 percent to its lowest close since July 2, its 12th decline in the last 14 sessions.

Saudi Telecom Co dipped 0.3 percent to 40.20 riyals. HSBC has raised its target price on STC to 48 riyals from 44 riyals, according to a note from the bank.

"STC has been delivering stellar domestic revenue growth for the last two quarters and we expect it to continue," the note said, adding that HSBC expects STC's third quarter net income to rise 67 percent year-on-year.

Volumes were also a concern in Egypt, despite the index

snapping a four session losing streak, as investor uncertainty was reflected in the market.

"Foreign investors continued to shy away from Egyptian equities and came in as net sellers. Local and regional investors displayed weak appetite and were on the buy side of the market," said Pharos Securities in a note.

The benchmark rose 0.8 percent, although volumes dropped to their lowest level since July 15.

In Oman, the index gained for a fourth straight session, closing up 0.3 percent. It is the bourse's longest winning run since the start of September.

Kuwait benchmark gained 0.1 percent, snapping a three-session losing streak. Conversely, Qatar's bourse dipped for the first session in four, ending down 0.4 percent.

WEDNESDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS DUBAI * The index jumped 1.2 percent to 1,623 points. ABU DHABI * The index advanced 0.2 percent to 2,653 points. SAUDI ARABIA * The index fell 0.1 percent to 6,887 points. EGYPT * The measure rose 0.8 percent to 5,656 points. OMAN * The index gained 0.3 percent to 5,617 points. KUWAIT * The measure edged up 0.1 percent to 5,980 points. QATAR * The benchmark fell 0.4 percent to 8,504 points. BAHRAIN

* The measure slipped 0.2 percent to 1,077 points. ($1 = 3.7501 Saudi riyals)

(Additional reporting by Tom Pfeiffer in Cairo; Editing by Amran Abocar)

((davidj.french@thomsonreuters.com)(+971 4 362 5864)(Reuters Messaging: davidj.french.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: MIDEAST MARKETS/WRAP

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