January 2, 2017 / 5:33 AM / 7 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf may have firm tone as more markets start year

1 Min Read

DUBAI, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets may have a slightly firm tone on Monday as most reopen after New Year holidays, although there is very little direction from global markets or fresh corporate news within the region.

Some foreign investors may remain absent as they haven't yet returned from the holidays. But many investors expect a stronger 2017 because of higher oil prices and governments' partial success in cutting their budget deficits.

A Reuters poll of 13 leading Middle Eastern fund managers, published on Thursday, found 62 percent expect to raise their allocations to regional equities in the next three months and none to reduce them - the most bullish view of equities since February 2014, before oil prices began to plunge.

A 0.4 percent gain by Saudi Arabia's index on Sunday may be taken as a modestly positive signal for the region in the new year. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia)

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