June 4, 2018 / 1:01 PM / 3 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai, Qatar lead gains in most Gulf markets

* Emaar, DAMAC send Dubai market higher

* Qatar up, backed by blue chips

* Al Rajhi reverses gains on profit taking

By Marwa Rashad

RIYADH, June 4 (Reuters) - Gulf markets mostly ended higher on Monday, led by Dubai and Qatar and fueled by by heavyweight stocks, while Saudi market stayed firm for the second straight day following appointment of new market-friendly labour minister.

The Dubai index jumped 1.6 percent, on a 2.6 percent gain by the market’s largest listed developer, Emaar Properties, which hit a one-month high, closing at 5.4 dirhams.

Shares in DAMAC Properties reached a four-week high, rising 2.6 percent to 2.4 dirhams.

A monthly Reuters poll of leading Middle East fund managers, published on Thursday, found sentiment shifting in favour of United Arab Emirates equities after their poor performance so far this year.

Fifty-four percent of managers now expect to raise their allocations to UAE equities in the next three months and none plan to reduce allocations, the most positive balance since January 2017. The managers cited valuations, which have become cheap compared to booming markets such as Riyadh.

Saudi was flat to positive as investors were upbeat with the appointment of a prominent businessman as labour minister and as they await a possible MSCI upgrade to emerging markets status on May 20.

Saudi index added 0.1 percent. Heavyweight National Commercial bank rose 1.14 percent and Almarai jumped 4.5 percent.

Al Rajhi Bank closed 1.4 percent down, reversing a two day rally during which it jumped 3.6 percent, after businessman Ahmed bin Suleiman al-Rajhi, a son of the bank’s founder, was named labour minister.

The market as a whole is positive about Rajhi’s appointment because he was a key figure in the private sector’s lobbying of the government to make its austerity and labour policies less damaging to businesses. The extent to which he may actually change policy is not clear, however.

In Abu Dhabi, the index was up 0.2 percent as Emirates Telecom rose 1.2 percent and Dana Gas < jumped 2>8 percent.

In Doha, the index rose 2.1 percent, with main support coming from Industries Qatar that jumped 4.1 percent and Qatar National Bank that went 2.8 percent higher.

Egypt’s main index lost 1.6 percent with most of its 30-listed stocks closing on a negative note.

Property developer Talaat Mostafa >TMGH.CA> fell 9.8 percent and Commercial International Bank lost 1.1 percent.

SAUDI ARABIA * The index added 0.1 percent to 8,335 points. DUBAI * The index rose 1.6 percent to 3,035 points. ABU DHABI * The index gained 0.2 percent to 4,577 points. QATAR * The index jumped 2.1 percent to 9,117 points. KUWAIT * The index added 0.2 percent to 4,720 points. BAHRAIN * The index was flat at 1,265 points. OMAN * The index lost 0.4 percent to 4,585 points. EGYPT * The index fell 1.6 percent to 16,404 points.

Reporting by Marwa Rashad; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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