February 5, 2015 / 1:32 PM / 3 years ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets diverge on mixed earnings, volatile oil

* Saudi Arabian petrochemicals retreat

* But banks, retailers rise

* Laggard stocks surge in Dubai

* Abu Dhabi's Dana Gas tumbles after swinging to Q4 loss

* Egyptian property names pull back as c.bank pauses depreciation

By Olzhas Auyezov

DUBAI, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Stock markets in the Gulf were mixed on Thursday as oil prices seesawed erratically, dashing hopes for a smooth and sustained recovery.

Brent crude, which had tumbled 5.5 percent in the previous session, swung between $53.07 and $56.19 per barrel on Thursday in a tug-of-war between bulls and bears.

Saudi Arabia's equities index inched up 0.1 percent, but Saudi Basic Industries, the Gulf's largest petrochemicals producer, dropped 2.3 percent.

Three banks, Al Rajhi, Samba Financial Group and Alinma, were the main supports, gaining 1.4, 1.0 and 1.1 percent respectively.

Retailer Jarir Marketing rose 1.4 percent after hiking its fourth-quarter dividend to 1.85 riyals from 1.40 riyals a year ago.

More Saudi Arabian companies announced plans to pay their employees two months' salary as a bonus following King Salman's order for state bodies to do so at the end of last week. The move could boost the profits of retailers such as Jarir and consumer-focused banks such as Al Rajhi, analysts have said.

UAE, QATAR

Dubai's index rose 1.0 percent, largely because of Mashreq Bank which soared 11.7 percent. The lender has a very small free float and its shares often move sharply because of low liquidity.

Property developer DAMAC surged 9.4 percent in its heaviest trading in Dubai to date. The stock originally listed in London and cross-listed on the emirate's bourse last month, subsequently plunging by more than a third. DAMAC has now returned to the levels where it started its Dubai trading.

Another laggard, Dubai Parks and Resorts, which had plunged by a third since listing in December, surged 8.3 percent with a spike in trading volume.

Logistics firm Aramex jumped 2.2 percent after it posted a 17 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit. The company made 89.4 million dirhams ($24.3 million) in the quarter against an average estimate of 83.8 million dirhams.

Aramex chief executive Hussein Hachem said on Thursday he expected 2015 profit to rise 10 percent, although growth would depend on the price of oil and the euro exchange rate. He also said the firm planned to take out a $150 million loan and conduct two to three acquisitions this year.

Abu Dhabi's benchmark fell 0.9 percent to 4,609 points, holding just above chart support at 4,606 points, the late December high which it broke above on Wednesday.

Shares in Dana Gas tumbled 4.1 percent. The company reported a fourth-quarter loss on Thursday that it blamed on lower oil prices and a fall in the value of its oil and gas assets in Egypt.

Qatar's index rose 0.8 percent as shares in Islamic lender Masraf Al Rayan jumped 3.5 percent. The stock has risen 15.9 percent since the bank posted a 21.2 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit on Jan. 26. It also proposed a 2014 dividend of 1.75 riyals per share, up from 1.5 riyals a year earlier.

KUWAIT, EGYPT

Kuwait's index slipped 0.1 percent as central bank governor Mohammad al-Hashel denied allrgations of illicit share trading, after a local newspaper reported the securities regulator had decided to refer him to prosecutors on suspicion of violating investment rules.

It was not clear which stocks were involved in the reported case, and the Capital Markets Authority could not be reached for comment.

Egypt's market edged down 0.8 percent as major property names pulled back after the central bank paused the gradual depreciation of the pound on Wednesday.

Real estate developers Talaat Moustafa Group and SODIC dropped 2.3 and 2.2 percent respectively. The sector had gained strongly in the last two weeks on hopes that Egyptians would use property as a hedge against the weakening currency.

THURSDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index inched up 0.1 percent to 9,180 points.

DUBAI

* The index rose 1.0 percent to 3,887 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index fell 0.9 percent to 4,609 points.

QATAR

* The index added 0.8 percent to 12,521 points.

EGYPT

* The index fell 0.8 percent to 9,965 points.

KUWAIT

* The index slipped 0.1 percent to 6,700 points.

OMAN

* The index edged down 0.5 percent to 6,688 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index edged up 0.2 percent to 1,436 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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