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Mon 12 May 2008 05:50 PM

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Banks recover losses to drive markets higher

Saudi the only loser, with the rest of Gulf's markets all ending up for the day.

Banks recovered from Sunday’s losses to drive Gulf markets higher on Monday, although Saudi Arabia market, the worst performer of the Gulf this year, continued to languish.

Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and the UAE's indexes all ended the session higher on strong performances from banks and developers, while investors looking to free up capital for the upcoming listing of Alinma Bank dampened Saudi’s measure.

Saudi’s Tadawul All Shares Index, the largest in the Gulf, languished ahead of Alinma’s listing. The decline was led by shares of Al Rajhi Bank and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic), which slipped 2.28% and 1.42% respectively. The benchmark fell 0.83% to close on 9,615.05 points.

Investors are selling shares in existing stock as the market prepares for the upcoming listing of Alinma Bank, Youssef Kassantini, chief executive at Bourse Experts, told newswire Reuters.

“The market level right now is very fair. I think there will be fluctuations between 9,200 and 10,000 points,” he said.

In Dubai the main index added 1%, supported by Emaar Properties which rose 1.72% and Emirates NBD, which ended 1.23% higher. The index finished the day on 5,799.15 points.

In the capital, a massive rally by Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa) led the benchmark to a firmer close. The stock soared 4% to lift the index 0.41% higher to conclude the session on 5,026.57 points.

Qatar too ended the day in positive territory with banks providing much of the support. Commercial Bank of Qatar and Doha Bank rose 2.34% and 3.78% respectively, while Qatar Islamic Bank also strengthened by 2.49%.

“Most of the investors are trying to go back to the banking sector because of expected good results in the second quarter,” Bashar Issa, investment analyst at Dlala Brokerage and Investment Holding, told Reuters. Doha’s measure finished the day on 11,831.77 points, higher by 1.04%.

Kuwait's main index ended slightly higher, reversing some of the earlier retail-led selling as Commercial Bank of Kuwait gained 2.7%. The benchmark finished on 14,987.10 points, up 0.14% for the day.

The Gulf’s strongest performer for the year, Oman, also ended higher, boosted by banks and telecom Omantel. The Muscat index rose 0.89% to 11,377.60 points as Bank Muscat and Omantel surged 2.64% and 1.92% respectively.

Bahrain's main index rounded out the day’s gainers to finish 0.6% higher on 2,826.52 points.