* Saudi now up 3.2 percent for the year
* Petchems volatile as investors focus on Q4 results
* Dubai outperforms as it catches up with region
* Etisalat weighs on Abu Dhabi
* Foreigners remain net buyers of Egyptian shares
By Celine Aswad
DUBAI, Dec 4 Most stock markets in the Gulf rose
on Sunday as investors cheered a rally in crude oil prices,
while foreign buyers continued to support Egypt's index.
Brent crude futures ended their best week in at
least five years on Friday, settling at $54.46 a barrel
following OPEC's agreement to cut output to prop up prices.
Saudi Arabia's general market index added 0.5
percent in heavy trade, taking its gains for the year to 3.2
percent. The index was down as much as 21.6 percent only nine
weeks ago as the economy struggled with low oil prices.
But a string of positive events over the last several weeks
- principally the government's $17.5 billion international bond
sale, its promise to settle delayed payments to the private
sector, and the OPEC decision - has unleashed a wave of buying
by institutional funds.
The latest report by the Saudi exchange showed institutional
funds were net buyers of Saudi shares by a large margin last
month, while retail investors, who often account for roughly 90
percent of activity, were net sellers.
Sunday's session was volatile in some sectors. Most
petrochemical shares lost steam as investors booked profits,
turning their focus to year-end earnings after factoring in the
oil price rally.
"Now that there has been price discovery in crude markets
following the OPEC deal, investors will be focusing on the
quality names and those producers that can still offer
attractive value at current prices," said a Jeddah-based
After a strong rally in recent weeks, many petrochemical
producers are now in line with what analysts estimate to be fair
value. Yanbu National Petrochemical, for example,
closed down 1.0 percent on Sunday at 51.00 riyals; analysts'
average fair value estimate, according to Thomson Reuters data,
is 49.73 riyals.
Second- and third-tier stocks favoured by local day traders
outperformed. Saudi United Cooperative Insurance
soared its 10 percent daily limit and Herfy Food Services
jumped 5.0 percent.
The stock index in Dubai, which was closed for a
public holiday on Thursday, gained 1.7 percent in heavy trade.
Blue chips Emaar Properties and Dubai Islamic Bank
each climbed 3.1 percent.
In Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi National Energy surged 10
percent on the back of strong oil prices and Union National Bank
added 1.3 percent.
But Abu Dhabi's index was dragged 1.1 percent lower
by telecommunications heavyweight Etisalat, which
pulled back 3.5 percent. Funds may be exiting the stock, which
is seen as a defensive investment, to enter oil-related shares
and the bullish Saudi Arabian market.
Doha's main index closed up 1.0 percent as
petrochemical producer Industries Qatar rose by that
In Egypt, the index of the 30 most liquid shares
added 0.7 percent as foreign buyers remained net purchasers of
stocks by a small margin of $1 million, bourse data showed.
Foreign funds, which have been underweight in the Egyptian
stock market compared to other emerging markets, have been net
buyers since authorities floated the local currency on Nov. 3.
Industrial companies seen as most likely to benefit from
improved access to hard currency after the float were among top
gainers on Sunday, with GB Auto jumping 11.3 percent
and Ezz Steel adding 5.2 percent.
Orascom Telecom Media, the most heavily traded
stock, sank 5.3 percent after saying it was closing its Orabank
affiliate in North Korea because of the complexity of complying
with U.S. sanctions on that country. Orascom said its associate
Koryolink would continue telecommunications operations in North
Korea while complying with the sanctions.
* The index rose 0.5 percent to 7,130 points.
* The index gained 0.7 percent to 11,631 points.
* The index advanced 1.7 percent to 3,417 points.
* The index fell 1.1 percent to 4,262 points.
* The index rose 1.0 percent to 10,010 points.
* The index fell 0.3 percent to 5,555 points.
* The index added 0.4 percent to 5,610 points.
* The index dipped 0.2 percent to 1,176 points.
(Editing by Andrew Torchia and Alexandra Hudson)