Gulf markets volatile; bargain hunters may return

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Sharp losses on Middle East bourses in recent days could bring in bargain hunters on Thursday, but as the United States moves another step closer to a military strike on Syria, geopolitical tensions are likely to keep markets volatile.

A U.S. Senate committee voted in favour of action, clearing the way for a vote in the full Senate, likely next week.

The approval is for a more limited strike than President Barack Obama proposed - the resolution sets a 60-day limit on any engagement in Syria, with a possible 30-day extension, and bars the use of U.S. troops on the ground for combat operations.

The Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Saudi Arabia benchmarks slumped to multi-week lows on Wednesday but longer-term investors say prices are looking attractive as local fundamentals have not been changed by fears of a possible attack on Syria.

Markets will remain volatile, with retail investors trading from a short-term perspective.

In Saudi Arabia, shares in retailer Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair could outperform the market after the firm's president told Reuters he plans to open nearly 250 stores at home and abroad this financial year.

Elsewhere, Asian stocks rose to three-week highs as strong auto sales data from U.S. and central bank support for the Indian rupee has helped put the Syrian conflict at the back of investors' minds on Thursday.

Brent crude is up 18 cents to $115.09 per barrel.

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