Asian gains to support some Gulf markets

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Turnover on Saudi Arabia's bourse hit a five-year peak on Sunday, reaching SAR18bn (US$4.80bn).

Turnover on Saudi Arabia's bourse hit a five-year peak on Sunday, reaching SAR18bn (US$4.80bn).

Gains in Asian shares should support some Gulf Arab markets on Monday, but UAE stocks could face further losses as traders book profits from an early-year surge.

Upbeat economic data lifted US markets to an almost four-year high last week and higher European stocks reflected signs of growing stability in the euro zone.

Brent crude is holding above US$126 a barrel on Monday, with prices supported by continued concerns over supply disruption from Iran.

A bullish oil market is usually positive for regional petrochemical stocks, with higher crude prices improving producers' margins.

Turnover on Saudi Arabia's bourse hit a five-year peak on Sunday, reaching SAR18bn (US$4.80bn), as money poured in to lift the kingdom's benchmark to a new three-and-a-half year high.

"We have very good visibility in terms of investments in Saudi Arabia, with government spending and capital expenditure... that's why a lot of money has shifted there," says Sebastien Henin, portfolio manager at The National Investor.

Qatar's market is lacking short-term catalysts, while UAE bourses are seen extending losses as investors lock in recent gains. Dubai's index has fallen 5.3 percent since March 5's 16-month high.

Dubai's Arabtec said it has no plans to renew talks with Abu Dhabi state fund Aabar Investments about a taking a stake in the builder because its funding needs have eased.

The Abu Dhabi government-owned fund recently raised its stake in Arabtec to 5 percent, fueling speculation it may be interested in a larger share.

"They have to time the way they will increase their stake but 5 percent looks too small. Their portfolio usually consists of decent stakes in companies," Henin adds.

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