By Matt Smith
UPDATE 5: Dubai's DFM ends higher, rising 0.4% to end a three-session losing streak.
Abu Dhabi's bourse hit a six-week closing high as most Gulf Arab markets made minor gains on Thursday, ignoring a sharp drop in oil prices the previous day and a hesitant performance by global exchanges.
Abu Dhabi's index rose 1.5 percent, its biggest one-day gain for over two weeks, with National Bank of Abu Dhabi surging 8.6 percent after it reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings and announced plans for a 10 percent share buyback. It has gained 41.8 percent since July 13.
"The results encourage long-term investors to buy, while speculators are attracted by the buy-back plan," said Ayman El Saheb, Darahem Financial Brokerage director of operations.
Abu Dhabi's property stocks also prospered. Aldar Properties climbed 2.6 percent, shrugging off Tuesday's fall after the developer reported an 80 percent drop in quarterly profit, while Sorouh Real Estate climbed 2.5 percent, with the two developers closely correlated.
"The real estate industry is getting hit left, right and centre, but Abu Dhabi is saying its projects will be unaffected, unlike Dubai where lots of developments have been scrapped," said Saheb.
"Aldar and Sorouh's shares are worth more than Emaar's, despite them being much younger companies and the difference in price shows what the market thinks of Abu Dhabi compared to Dubai."
Emaar Properties climbed 1.1 percent. After trading hours, the firm reported a second-quarter net loss of 1.29 billion dirhams ($351.2m).
Emaar's gain helped Dubai's index advance for the first session in four, rising 0.4 percent as most activity was directed at penny stocks, with five of the six most traded shares worth 1.10 dirhams or less. Four of this sextet advance, including Deyaar and Drake & Scull, which surge 4.1 and 3.5 percent respectively.
"There was no reason for the market to go up, other than it being the last day of the month and so perhaps traders were trying to boost stock prices to raise the value of their portfolios," added Saheb.
Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (Taqa) climbed 2.6 percent after the firm on Wednesday said it was expanding its North Sea assets by buying the energy unit of Dutch chemicals group DSM NV for $407m.
Internal factors were the drivers of UAE markets on Thursday, said Haissam Arabi, chief executive and fund manager at Gulfmena Alternative Investments. This enabled them to temporarily decouple from international equities.
U.S. stocks fell overnight, but Asian markets recovered early losses after China's central bank restated its commitment to an "appropriately loose" monetary policy.
Oil rebounded after Gulf stock markets had closed, buoyed by further earnings releases from international firms, which raised hopes of a swift global economic recovery.
Crude rose 1.2 percent to $64.09 a barrel at 1135 GMT, having fallen 5.8 percent the day before, its biggest one-day drop for more than three months.
Kuwait's Global Investment House fell 3 percent after National Bank of Umm Al Qaiwain (NBQ) said the Kuwaiti firm lost a court bid to scrap its deal to buy a $642.5m stake in the UAE bank. The rarely-traded NBQ was unchanged.
Oman's index MSI declined for a third day, dragged lower by Oman International Bank (OIB). The lender dropped 3.6 percent after its second quarter profit came in below expectations.
"The market has been steady on very low volumes, with investors waiting for the results from the big names," said Sunil Dhall, an independent market analyst. "The index is facing tough resistance at 6,000 and could fall back to the 5,700-level next week, with global and regional markets likely to retreat after hitting recent highs."
The Saudi bourse is closed on Thursdays.
Highlights of Thursday's trade:
* The index DFM rose 0.4 percent to 1,818 points.
* The benchmark QSI climbed 1.1 percent to 6,708 points.
* The benchmark <.ADI> rose 1.5 percent to 2,801 points, its highest close since June 17.
* The index KWSE climbed 0.6 percent to 7,680 points.
* The measure MSI fell 0.4 percent to 5,846 points.
* The index BAX rose 0.3 percent to 1,502 points. (Reuters)