Gulf markets buoyant as traders eye dividends

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Gulf Arab markets are seen extending gains on Monday as many investors continue to increase their market exposure ahead of expected dividend payouts.

The Dubai and Abu Dhabi benchmarks hit nine and 18-month peaks respectively on Sunday, while Qatar's close was its highest since May 8. Trading volumes are also up.

A deal among US politicians to stop the world's top economy falling over the so-called "fiscal cliff" was the catalyst for an early-year surge on some Gulf markets, according to Marwan Shurrab, vice-president and chief trader at Gulfmena Alternative Investments.

"Retail investors were also hyped on expectations for Q4 results and strong dividends," says Shurrab.

Dubai's index rose 19.9 percent in 2012 to be the top performing Gulf market last year, with the bulk of these gains made in the first quarter and so investors are increasing their market exposure now in the hope of history repeating itself.

"We're seeing the return of retail investors that were neutral or out of the market over the previous six months," says Shurrab.

Whether this rally can be sustained will depend on fourth-quarter earnings, Shurrab adds.

A slight pull-back on Asian markets in early Monday trade may dampen Gulf sentiment, but regional investors seem more focused on events closer to home.

Egypt's bourse is closed for a national holiday.

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