Abu Dhabi's stock market outperformed the region again on Wednesday due to telecommunications firm Etisalat, which surged after saying it would open its shares to foreign investors. Most other Gulf markets were firm on the back of stronger oil prices.
Etisalat closed 5.1 percent higher at 14.50 dirhams, its highest finish since mid-2008, in its heaviest trading volume since February 2014.
The stock has risen sharply for two days since it said local and foreign institutions and expatriate individuals would be allowed to buy up to 20 percent of the company; currently, only United Arab Emirates individual investors can buy. It did not give a time frame for the change.
Etisalat's rise helped the Abu Dhabi stock index climb 1.4 percent on Wednesday. However, Etisalat closed far off its intra-day high of 15.85 dirhams, suggesting its rally is losing steam.
The stock is now richly valued with a forward price/earnings ratio of about 13 times, more expensive than Saudi Telecom at just under 11 and not far from Qatar's Ooredoo at about 14.5.
Dubai's index rose 0.5 percent, supported by Amlak Finance, which remained the most heavily traded stock in the emirate and the favourite target of speculative retail investors. It climbed 5.6 percent.
Education and healthcare investor Amanat was the second most heavily traded stock and soared its 15 percent daily limit amid market talk that a local financial firm was aggressively building a stake in the company.
Qatar's market gained 0.6 percent as drilling rig provider Gulf International Services rose 1.2 percent on the back of stronger oil prices.
The Saudi market rose 0.4 percent as oil boosted top petrochemical producer Saudi Basic Industries by 1.5 percent.
SABIC and other blue chips suffered over the past week after the opening of the Saudi market to direct foreign investment on June 15 failed to trigger immediate, heavy inflows of funds. But the disappointment appears to be fading and investors have resumed buying blue chips on dips.
Saudi Automotive Services sank 3.2 percent. It had soared since mid-May on news of a new corporate financing package, but began falling back sharply on Tuesday.
Egypt rose almost 1 percent in early trade but closed only 0.1 percent higher, a sign of the gloom which has gripped the market since it failed to stage a sustained rally when the government suspended a capital gains tax in mid-May.
Orascom Telecom rose more than 2 percent in early trade after reporting a first-quarter net profit of 373.86 million Egyptian pounds ($49 million), up from 324.34 million pounds a year earlier. But it closed 2.3 percent lower.For all the latest market news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.