* Egypt jumps in heaviest volume since mid-November
* Palm Hills rises strongly for second day
* Gulf bourses exposed to foreign funds outperform this week
* Dubai Islamic Insurance soars amid merger speculation
* Saudi flat but petrochemicals up as oil nears $57
By Celine Aswad
DUBAI, Jan 5 Egypt's stock market closed the
week at a record high on Thursday as foreign funds continued to
buy, while Gulf markets inched up on the back of firmer crude
oil and global bourses.
Cairo's index closed 1.7 percent higher at 12,824
points in the heaviest traded volume since mid-November.
"Since the float of the currency on Nov. 3 the market has
not witnessed a correction and foreign funds have been flooding
the market with fresh money, helping maintain positive appetite
towards equities," said Mohamed El Nabarawy, head of asset
management at Cairo's HC Securities & Investment.
Eighty percent of traded shares in the EGX30 index were bid
up on Thursday, with Palm Hills Development jumping
5.1 percent. On Wednesday, the developer surged 8.5 percent
after signing an agreement with the Ministry of Housing to buy a
major plot in West Cairo for a new project near its existing
Egypt's net foreign reserves rose to $24.265 billion at the
end of December from $23.058 billion at the end of November
after the disbursement of loans from foreign donors, the central
bank said on Thursday.
Nabarawy said this would help boost confidence that Egypt's
currency drought was starting to reverse, though over the long
term, dollar inflows should come primarily from foreign direct
investment, tourism and exports. "Non-loaned sources of inflows
are more productive in the long term than borrowed money."
Positive sentiment in global stock markets spread to Gulf
bourses, supporting those markets most exposed to foreign funds.
Dubai's index rose 0.3 percent to 3,628 points but
traded volume dropped by roughly a third from Wednesday.
The index rose 2.7 percent this week, nearing technical
resistance at the mid-December peak of 3,659 points.
Dubai Islamic Insurance and Reinsurance jumped
14.0 percent to 1.09 dirhams on Thursday in its heaviest trade
since early 2014.
The stock soared its 15 percent limit on each of the
previous three days, and it has doubled in price since Dec. 27.
Some traders speculate there may be mergers in the insurance
industry following last year's news of a big Abu Dhabi banking
Dubai Investments rose 3.7 percent after
announcing on Wednesday the launch of a new 3 billion-dirham
($817 million) real estate project in Dubai.
Doha's index, another market actively traded by
foreign funds, recouped early losses to add 0.3 percent and
finished the week up 2.4 percent. Telecommunications provider
Ooredoo closed 0.3 percent higher at 105.30 riyals,
1.7 riyals above its intra-day low.
Saudi Arabia's index closed on the day and dropped
0.2 percent in the first week of the year.
The petrochemical sub-index swung 0.2 percent
higher after Brent oil futures bounced 2 percent
overnight and climbed back near $57.00 a barrel. Bellwether
Saudi Basic Industries rose 0.5 percent.
But the banking sector was weak with Riyad Bank
dropping 2.2 percent after its board recommended a slightly
lower cash dividend distribution for the second half of 2016
compared to the corresponding period in 2015.
* The index edged up 0.01 percent to 7,199 points.
* The index rose 0.3 percent to 3,628 points.
* The index added 0.3 percent to 4,602 points.
* The index inched up 0.3 percent to 10,717 points.
* The index gained 1.7 percent to 12,824 points.
* The index rose 0.8 percent to 5,831 points.
* The index added 0.6 percent to 5,793 points.
* The index lost 0.1 percent to 1,206 points.
(Editing by Andrew Torchia, Larry King)