DUBAI, April 3 Stock markets in the Gulf may
move sideways in thin volume on Monday with institutional buyers
expected to stay on the sidelines as small moves in global
markets and crude oil offer no fresh catalyst and as they wait
for first-quarter results.
International benchmark Brent futures slipped 14
cents, or 0.3 percent, to $53.39 a barrel by 0551 GMT. The March
contract closed on Friday at $52.83 a barrel.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
rose 0.3 percent. It gained 12.3 percent in the
last quarter, its biggest quarterly gain in 6-1/2 years.
Stock markets in the Gulf, meanwhile, have been trading
sideways over several days in very thin trade. Many portfolio
managers and analysts said that institutional funds have
remained on the sidelines, waiting for first-quarter results due
in the coming weeks.
In a survey conducted by Reuters last week of 13 leading
Middle Eastern fund managers' expected asset allocation over the
next three months, they preferred Saudi Arabia by a considerable
margin - 62 percent planned to increase their allocations
towards Saudi stocks and none to cut them.
Most managers said that the possible inclusion of Saudi
shares in an international emerging market index would help
boost volumes and reduce the cost of equity, making them more
attractive buys at current levels.
MSCI will decide in June whether to review Saudi Arabia for
possible inclusion in its emerging market index, while FTSE will
decide in September on an upgrade.
In Kuwait, shares of Al Mowasat Healthcare and
Gulf Insurance Group go ex-dividend on Monday.
(Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Saeed Azhar and Biju