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Sun 29 Jan 2012 11:58 AM

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Abu Dhabi extends run on banks, real estate

Expectations of strong results from UAE firms seen fuelling demand from investors

Abu Dhabi extends run on banks, real estate
UAE stock exchange, Dubai bourse

Rising bank and real estate stocks helped Abu Dhabi extend
its recent positive run, with expectations of strong fourth-quarter results
from UAE companies fuelling demand from investors.

Aldar Properties rose 3.4 percent while Sorouh Real Estate
added 3.8 percent. The Abu Dhabi index rose 1.7 percent.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, which reported a 38.5-percent
rise in fourth-quarter profits on Thursday, climbed 1.4 percent while First
Gulf Bank adds 2.3 percent.

"The expectations are strong for fourth-quarter
earnings, particularly in the banking sector," said Marwan Shurrab,
vice-president and chief trader at Gulfmena Investments. "ADCB was a good
surprise with its dividend, which saw retail investors react positively."

Dubai's bourse gained 0.8 percent, with Emaar Properties
climbing 1.5 percent and Dubai Islamic Bank rising 2.5 percent.

The Kuwait index traded in marginally-negative territory,
down 0.1 percent.

Kuwait Finance House, the state's largest sharia-compliant
bank by market capitalisation, fell 1.1 percent. Burgan Bank was also down,
declining 1.1 percent in sparse trading.

"We saw National Bank of Kuwait last week [where] the
earnings were flat so the indication is that, probably the best case scenario,
the big banks will have flat profits," said Safaa Zbib, head of research
at Kuwait and Middle East Financial Investment Co.

The shares with the highest volumes were Abyaar Real Estate
Development Co, up 8.3 percent, and Al Madina Finance & Investment Co,
which dropped 7.1 percent.

Zbib said speculation in small-caps stocks has been present
for the last couple of weeks, with the Kuwait market awaiting fourth-quarter
numbers and the results of the upcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled for
Feb 2.

In Qatar, United Development Company accounted for over half
the shares traded. The firm dropped 5.5 percent after it announced a potential
strategic investor had withdrawn its offer amid a dispute over the timing of
its investment.

The firm had climbed 6.6 percent on Thursday following big
gains in its 2011 profits.

Industries Qatar, the Middle East's second-biggest
petrochemicals company, rose 0.6 percent.

Qatar's index fell 0.2 percent.

In Oman, the Muscat bourse traded up 0.2 percent.

Greece's Finance Minister, Evangelos Venizelos, said on
Saturday a debt deal for his country should be signed this week - a move which
would help to relieve some of the concerns around European sovereign debt and
boost global stock markets.

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