Posted on January 09, 2015

Gulf stock markets extended gains on Thursday after oil rebounded slightly from its Wednesday low and several companies made positive announcements, said Reuters. Supported by a fall in U.S. crude oil inventories, Brent futures traded above $51 per barrel on Thursday after briefly dropping below $50 in the previous session.

Saudi Arabia's stock index climbed 1.9 percent in a broad rally. Retailer Jarir Marketing, which on Wednesday posted a 25.5 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit, surged 6.3 percent. Shares in Saudi British Bank (SABB) added 1.2 percent after it received approval to raise its capital by 50 percent to 15 billion riyals ($4 billion) through a bonus share issue. Banque Saudi Fransi added 1.3 percent after its board recommended a cash dividend of 0.5 riyal per share for the second half of 2014. The lender paid no dividend in the same period last year and analysts had expected, on average, just 0.16 riyal.

Dubai's equities index rose 2.1 percent and shares in bourse operator Dubai Financial Market surged 6.0 percent after economy minister Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri said the United Arab Emirates government would favour a merger of the main Abu Dhabi and Dubai bourses, although the decision was up to the exchanges themselves. Trading volume in Dubai continued to rise, a positive technical sign.

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Qatar's benchmark jumped 3.4 percent as local companies started announcing dividend payouts. Gulf International Services jumped 2.9 percent after its board recommended a 5.5 riyal 2014 dividend, up from 2.0 riyals a year earlier. The firm said its business, which includes providing services to companies such as Qatar Petroleum, was unaffected by lower oil prices. Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding added 1.1 percent after its board recommended paying an annual dividend of 1.10 riyal for 2014. Mesaieed, which listed on Doha's bourse in February 2014, paid a dividend of 0.35 riyal per share for the final four months of 2013.

Shares in conglomerate Industries Qatar surged 5.4 percent ahead of its own dividend announcement, but the firm, whose assets include petrochemicals plants, decided to cut the payout. After the close, the company said its board had recommended a 7.00 riyal dividend, down from 11.00 riyals last year and below analysts' average forecast of 11.13 riyals. Other Gulf markets were also positive; Abu Dhabi's bourse rose 1.2 percent, Kuwait added 1.1 percent and Oman edged up 0.8 percent.

Egypt's index rose 1.7 percent. Property developer Talaat Moustafa Group was one of the main supports, adding 2.0 percent to 9.90 Egyptian pounds after NBK Capital recommended it as a "buy" with a fair value of 11.80 pounds. "Our positive outlook on the stock mainly stems from the company's massive land bank and strong visibility over a prolonged period, sustained high demand in the Egyptian real estate market, TMG's attractive positioning in the mid-income segment, and the company's healthy balance sheet and cash flows," it said in a note.