Petrochemicals stocks lifted Saudi Arabia's index as investors buy back in after two days of declines, with further gains forecast as robust quarterly earnings and high oil prices boost sentiment.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) climbed 0.9 percent and Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Co rose 2.5 percent.
"Yesterday, we saw some profit taking from recent gains and also some liquidity taken out of the market for the telco IPO," says a Riyadh-based trader who asked not to be identified.
"People took advantage of yesterday's dip to buy back, mainly petrochemicals."
Saudi Integrated Telecommunication Co aims to raise SAR350m ($93.33m) by selling 35 percent of its shares, with the offer open from May 2 to May 8.
The index rose 0.5 percent to 6,720 points, its first gain in three days, to move within five points of Wednesday's 14-week high.
"A lot of investors have one eye on what's happening abroad - they're not taking the Saudi market up in a straight line, which is good to see," adds the trader. "As long the international news flow is positive, Saudi should continue to advance because Q1 numbers were good and oil is above $110."
Crude is down 1.2 percent at $112.53 a barrel at 1230 GMT, easing from Friday's 31-month peak.
Dubai Investments Co slumped to a four-week low after the firm's first-quarter profit tumbled, weighing on Dubai's index, which declined for a seventh session in eight.
Dubai Investments dropped 2.7 percent to its lowest finish since April 4. The conglomerate's quarterly profit fell 64 percent as investment losses increased.
Union Properties slipped 1 percent and Dubai Islamic Bank lost 0.9 percent.
The index slipped 0.04 percent to 1,628 points, taking its losses to 2.3 percent since UAE bourses gave brokers more time to switch a new settlement system, extending the deadline to May 29.
Index compiler MSCI has said UAE bourses must switch to a delivery versus payment system, the global standard, to be upgraded to emerging market status.
MSCI will announce whether it will raise the UAE from a frontier market at its next review in June, so the delay leaves little time for brokers to give their feedback.
"It's more uncertainty around MSCI - delaying DvP is putting doubts in people's minds," Matthew Wakeman, EFG-Hermes managing director for cash and equity-linked trading.
"This delay doesn't close the door, but it makes it a less of a positive than it was a week and a half ago."
Abu Dhabi's index inched up 0.04 percent to 2,692 points, edging away from Sunday's two-week low.
Aldar Properties and Sorouh Real Estate climbed 2 and 2.8 percent respectively.
"I wouldn't read too much into today's movements - we tend to drift when there are holidays on global markets and many are shut today," says Wakeman.
"Our markets are looking for news to justify another move higher - we've made a good bounce from the lows in the past month and a half and need new positive catalysts."
Qatar's index fell 0.3 percent to 8,514 points, declining for a second day.
Barwa Real Estate fell 3 percent, Islamic lender Masraf Al Rayan slipped 0.8 percent and Qatar Electricity and Water lost 0.7 percent.
Kuwait's index KWSE ended higher for a ninth session in 11, although volumes
remained concentrated in small-cap stocks, implying institutions were largely
Telecoms operator Zain dropped 1.7 percent, while banks were mixed.
National Bank of Kuwait and Commercial Bank of Kuwait rose 1.6 and 1.1
percent respectively, but Burgan Bank dropped 1.8 percent.
The index climbed 0.1 percent to 6,517 points, trimming its 2011 losses to
The five most active stocks have a combined market capitalisation of $805m,
less than one-twentieth of index heavyweight Zain. These small cap stocks are
the preserve of speculators, with institutions typically focusing on bluechip
Ominvest made its largest gain in four weeks after a local newspaper report
said discussions to float a bank unit were at an advanced stage, helping
Muscat's index MSI ended higher.
Ominvest climbed 6 percent to its highest finish in more than two years,
accounting for nearly a third of all shares traded on Oman's benchmark.
The firm owned a 51 percent stake in Oman Arab Bank and this may soon go
public, local media reported.
Oman's index rose 0.6 percent to 3,372 points, its second gain in three
Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) rose, helping Saudi Arabia's index TASI
advanced as petrochemicals dominated buying appetite.
SABIC climbed 0.5 percent, Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical Co
(PetroRabigh) added 1.8 percent and Sipchem rose1.2 percent.
The benchmark climbed 0.3 percent to 6,705 points, gaining for the first
session since Wednesday's 14-week high.
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