By Nicolas Parasie
UPDATE 6: Qatar banks weigh on QSI as investors book profits from Tuesday's closing high; Kuwait falls.
Dubai's index DFM hit a six-week closing high, shrugging off earlier losses as property stocks rally.
Emaar Properties climbed 3.7 percent, taking its gains to 12.9 percent over the past three sessions. Deyaar closed four percent higher.
"Profit taking (on Tuesday) was overdone and it bounced back today," said Matthew Wakeman, EFG-Hermes managing director for cash and equity-linked trading.
"It's two steps forward and one step backward trading," he said.
The benchmark index rose 1.3 percent to 1903 points, despite volumes falling by more than half from the day before, and it could extend its positive streak in the coming days if guidance from the U.S. is positive, Wakeman says.
"(There seem to be) no nasty surprises around the corner, so we can build on the steady trends we've seen," Wakeman added.
Abu Dhabi ended lower as property stocks weigh. Aldar Properties fell 2.4 percent.
The benchmark index ADI dropped 0.8 percent to 2,841 points, its second decline in the past three weeks.
Saudi Arabia's index TASI edged lower as some of its biggest banks declined.
Al Rajhi Bank lost 1.1 percent and Arab National Bank, which lost 2.6 percent. The latter fell after Jordan's Arab Bank, which owns 40 precent of the Saudi lender, posts a 26-percent drop in first-half net profit on Tuesday.
"Saad and Algosaibi continue to overhang the region and I don't think it would come as massive surprise to see another regional conglomerate or family group run into similar problems," said Julian Bruce, EFG-Hermes director of institutional equity sales.
Troubled Saudi conglomerates Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi and Brothers Company (AHAB) and Saad Group are restructuring billions of dollars of debts, with HSBC estimating the lending exposure of Saudi banks to these two groups could reach $7bn.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) reversed earlier losses to close 0.7 percent higher.
The index dropped 0.2 percent to 5,770 points.
Qatar banks weighed on the Doha index QSI as investors took profits from Tuesday's seven-week closing high.
Qatar National Bank closed 2.7 percent lower and Commercial Bank of Qatar fell one percent. The benchmark dropped 0.8 percent to 6,848 points. "After the recent gains, it is normal we take a breather," says Keith Edwards, head of asset management at Doha-based investment company The First Investor.
Qatari banks posted good results in the second quarter, which gave cause to a rally, he said, adding this rise was too strong and so the current pullback was to be expected.
The Kuwait index KWSE fell 0.1 percent to 7,721 points, despite big gains in two banks.
Ahli United Bank surged 9.6 percent after it reported a 56 percent drop in second-quarter net profit. The bank's Bahrain listing rose 9.6 percent.
Boubyan Bank closed 5.4 percent higher after reporting a net loss of $267,100 in the second quarter.
The Bahrain index BAX climbed 1.3 percent to 1,513 points.
Bank and telecom stocks pushed Oman's index MSI to a fresh 2009 high.
Bank Muscat closed 1.2 percent higher. Oman Telecommunications Co (Omantel) rose 0.7 percent to 1.392 rials after its second-quarter net profit slipped 3.3 percent.
"In my view the (Omantel) results are below market expectations and show a pressure on margins," said Sunil Dhall, an independent market analyst.
"The stock has been a underperformer and is expensive compared to its regional peers, I expect the price to decline to 1.30 rials in the coming days."
The benchmark rose 0.1 percent to 6,080 points, its highest close since Dec 18 and fourth straight gain.
Financial and petrochemical stocks dragged Saudi Arabia's index TASI lower as regional benchmarks tracked slight declines in international markets. Arab National Bank fell two percent, after Jordan's Arab Bank, which owns 40 precent of the Saudi lender, posted a 26-percent drop in first-half net profit on Tuesday.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) and Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Co lost 0.4 and 1.2 percent respectively.
The Saudi index fell 0.3 percent to 5,762 points. (Reuters)