December 17, 2015 / 7:33 AM / 2 years ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Property stocks lift Dubai, Etisalat weighs on Abu Dhabi

DUBAI, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Property-related stocks led gains in Dubai on Thursday as the emirate's index rose for a fourth session since slumping to a two-year low, tracking buoyant Asian markets.

Dubai, typically the most volatile Gulf market, has been the region's worst performer in 2015, Thursday's 1.5 percent rise trimmed this year's losses to 19.6 percent.

"Turnover has been still lagging for the past couple of weeks, but if the market performs better turnover will also start to increase," said Marwan Shurrab, director at Vision Investments and Holding in Dubai.

Shares in Builder Arabtec, which has suffered from managerial upheavals and has reported combined losses of $561 million over the past four quarters, rose 6.5 percent to trim its 2015 declines to 62 percent.

Contractor Drake & Scull climbed 5 percent, up for a third day in four since Sunday's record low. Emaar Properties added 5.4 percent.

Property-related stocks are the most liquid on Dubai's bourse and so tend to fluctuate more than the market average.

The dirham's strength against emerging market currencies and fears of increasing over supply have soured sentiment for Dubai's real estate sector.

The Dubai market's steep losses in 2015 have come since mid-year.

It was up 11 percent as of July 23 before a making steep drop as oil prices tumbled and investor worries grew over political instability in the Middle East, with a Saudi Arabia-led coalition going to war in Yemen and Syria's civil war showing no signs of abating.

Shurrab said political risk would be a key factor in determining whether foreign investor activity on UAE markets would increase next year after slipping this year.

Abu Dhabi's index slipped 0.01 percent to 4,065 points.

Etisalat was the main drag, falling 1 percent after saying an African subsidiary has been ordered to pay 413 million euros in damages.

Qatar's benchmark rose 0.2 percent, cutting its 2015 declines to 19.6 percent.

Asian stock markets jumped on Thursday as investors chose to take an historic hike in U.S. interest rates as a mark of confidence in the world's largest economy, lifting the dollar and piling on the pain for oil prices. (Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and John Stonestreet)

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