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MENAFN - Arab News - 14/12/2010

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(MENAFN - Arab News) Pipe-making firms lifted the Saudi index on Monday as traders bet on likely infrastructure spending ahead of the Kingdom's 2011 budget, while petrochemical shares rebounded following renewed oil price gains.

But most Middle East markets fell, with few new catalysts to spur investors to increase risk as the year-end nears.

Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co. climbed 5.3 percent and Arabian Pipe jumped 10 percent.

"There's no actual news, so we'll have to see if there's residual buying tomorrow, although volumes suggest it's an ongoing move in the sector," said Matthew Wakeman, EFG-Hermes managing director for cash and equity-linked trading.

Saudi Arabia is expected to soon release its 2011 budget, while the Kingdom is slated to spend 400 billion in five years to 2013 to enhance its infrastructure.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) ended flat, rebounding after slumping to a two-week intraday low.

"Oil climbing above 89 helped petrochemicals claw back most of their earlier losses, having been under pressure for much of the session," added Wakeman.

The Tadawul All-Share Index (TASI) closed 0.74 percent higher to 6,508.93 on Monday. The sector activity for the day was mostly positive with 9 out of 15 closing with gains ranging from 0.05 percent by the Real Estate Development sector to 2.08 percent by the Building & Construction sector. On the other hand the losing sectors ranged from 0.26 percent by the Petrochemical Industries sector to 1.75 percent by the Hotel & Tourism sector. The overall market breadth for the day was positive with 60 advancers against 62 decliners giving it an AD ratio of 0.96, the Financial Transaction House (FTH) said in its daily market commentary.

The stock market turnover reached SR4.13 billion on Monday.

Qatar's index fell 0.6 percent to 8,742 points, its second decline in three session as a World Cup rally faltered. It is up 6.8 percent since Qatar was chosen to host the 2022 soccer event.

"Only in the stock market can you have a significant reaction to an event that is 12 years from now," said Akram Annous, MENA strategist at Al-Mal Capital.

"Buying Qatar equities because you think this bid will lead to 100 billion in infrastructure and MSCI emerging status is probably not the best trade idea."

Industries Qatar fell 0.7 percent and Barwa Real Estate dropped 1.5 percent.

Annous pointed to a pre-World Cup rally as a reason to get out of Doha.

"Investors should have been buying two months ago when oil was 75 and Saudi and Qatari industrial names were the big underperformers," said Annous. "Now is not the time to become a long-term investor in these names. The World Cup news is a great opportunity to sell."

Hani Girgis, assistant chief dealer at Dlala brokerage, was more upbeat, forecasting Qatar would resume its rally.

"Now 9,000 points has changed from a medium- to long-term target to a short- to medium-term target following the World Cup win - we see buying power in the market," said Girgis.

Qatar, along with the United Arab Emirates, is on review for potential upgrade by index compiler MSCI to emerging market status from frontier market.

Oman made its largest drop in six weeks. The benchmark fell 0.8 percent to 6,661 points. Raysut Cement fell 2.1 percent, Galfar Engineering dropped 2.7 percent and Bank Muscat lost 1.5 percent.

"There was strong profit-taking - some brokers are pressuring traders to close positions before the year-end," said Adel Nasr, United Securities brokerage manager.

"The market will rebound this week - there has been strong accumulation by foreigners and institutions on Omantel, Bank Muscat, Nawras, Galfar and others and this continued today despite the profit taking."

Nawras rose 1.5 percent, but Omantel slipped 0.08 percent. The Omani index fell 0.8 percent to 6,661 points.

The Dubai index dropped 1.4 percent to 1,654 points. The Abu Dhabi index fell 0.8 percent to 2,745 points.

The Kuwaiti index fell 0.3 percent to 6,787 points.

The Bahraini index ended unchanged at 1,424 points.


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