By Raissa Kasolowsky
UPDATE 6: Reports of government's bailout plan boosts Kuwait and Oman markets.
Gulf markets rallied in thin trading on Tuesday, with Oman and Kuwait's ailing bourses gaining on hopes of government help, while steadier oil prices and more stability in world stocks lifted sentiment elsewhere.Oman's main index MSI, which lost more than 40 percent of its value last year, posted its biggest one-day gain in more than 12 weeks on media reports that a planned government market-marker fund would launch next week.
Top gainers were banks stocks, with heavyweight Bank Muscat surging 8.96 percent.
In Kuwait, the benchmark KWSE rallied 1.65 percent as investors took heart from media reports that the government was considering a multi-billion-dollar fund to help troubled firms cope with the impact of the global financial crisis.
"The whole region is up. In some markets it's technical rebounds, in others it's government support like in Kuwait and Oman ... all this creates some kind of buying momentum", said Joe Kawkabani, head of equities and asset management at Algebra Capital.
"There is also the stabilisation in the oil price, and global markets ... but all this is happening on very low volumes, so it has to be put into context", he said. World stocks rose on Tuesday with Japan climbing sharply as the government moved to rescue capital-strapped companies and European shares boosted by a positive German sentiment report.
Qatar's index QSI posted its biggest one-day gain in almost two months, rising 5.49 percent. Industries Qatar gained 8.05 percent.
"Volumes and value of trade are very low," said Samer al-Jaouni, general manager of Middle East Financial Brokerage Co. "We now have a situation where speculators are able to push prices up five to six percent, and that is what is happening."
The rise of the Qatari bourse in recent sessions is in part a technical rebound after the index broke below the 4,600-point level last week, Jaouni said, while sentiment was also helped by the Qatar Investment Authority starting to inject cash into the Gulf Arab state's banking sector.
In October, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) launched a $5.3 billion plan to buy stakes of up to 20 percent in listed banks to shore up investor confidence in the banking sector during the global financial crisis.
Qatar Islamic Bank and Commercial Bank of Qatar rose 7.1 percent and 8.59 percent respectively. (Reuters)