0950 GMT - Anticipation of strong fourth-quarter earnings at
Bank Muscat lifts shares, outperforming the broader
index which ends near-flat, after bluechips come under selling
Bank Muscat ends 1.1 percent higher, at 0.58 riyals, its
highest close since May 8.
"We witnessed some profit-booking on the bluechips, with the
exception of Bank Muscat. We believe Bank Muscat Q4 will be
good, and its usually the first in the sector to announce
earnings, and gives an indication for the rest of the banking
sector," says Adel Nasr at United Securities.
The index ends near flat at 5,766 points.
"I think the market will be back on track soon. We are
expecting results in the next 10-14 days, which will have a
positive impact, but the market is likely to stay neutral until
then," Nasr adds.
Elsewhere, Saudi shares extends Tuesday's gains. Brent crude
rose above $112 per barrel to hit a one-month high on Wednesday
as the U.S. Congress approved a deal to avert a fiscal crisis.
One regional trader said that the market is gearing up for
earnings season, which is supporting stocks across the board.
The index rises 0.6 percent to 6,899 points.
Other Gulf markets also rally on strong global cues.
Kuwait's benchmark advances 1 percent to 5,994 points
and Qatar's index climbs 0.8 percent to 8,429 points.
0700 GMT - United Arab Emirates markets rise with gains
across the board as positive global sentiment lifts stocks, and
as property shares recover from losses on Monday in response to
the central bank's introduction of caps on mortgage loans.
Dubai's index rises 1.1 percent to 1,641 points and
Abu Dhabi's benchmark advances 0.8 percent to 2,652
points. Abu Dhabi is heading for a break of chart resistance
around 2,640 points, which was support in October and November,
and which the index tested and failed to break last week.
Bellwether Emaar Properties is up 1.3 percent and
contractor Arabtec also up 1.3 percent. Dubai
Financial Market stock advances 3.0 percent.
Analysts believe the mortgage loan caps may slow the real
estate sector's recovery but not end it, and could be positive
in the long term by reducing volatility. Also, there is doubt
over how strictly the rules will be enforced.
"There is good sentiment in the market; Saudi was up on
Tuesday, and there was good news from the U.S., which are the
main reasons we are seeing the upside today," says Marwan
Shurrab, vice president and chief trader at Gulfmena
"For the time being, we are seeing a strong performance -
not combined with a strong turnover yet - but we are only an
hour into the trading session."
Saudi stocks closed higher on Tuesday with gains in all
sectors after oil prices edged up on Monday and the U.S. Senate
passed a deal to avert a "fiscal cliff" which threatened the
world's largest economy. The bill has now been passed by both
houses of Congress, helping Asian stocks to rise nearly 2
percent to hit a five-month high on Wednesday.
In Abu Dhabi, Sorouh Real Estate jumps 4.0 percent
and Aldar Properties gains 2.4 percent. There is
speculation that a long-awaited announcement of terms of their
planned merger may be made soon.
"These stocks are seeing strong performance on expectations
that an announcement on the merger is coming soon. But the
details of the merger will be key. Whichever company seems to
have come out better will see a strong stock performance going
forward," Shurrab adds.
Elsewhere, Kuwait's index rises, gaining 0.6 percent
to 5,972 points, while Qatar's market is almost flat.
Oman's bourse adds 0.2 percent, extending gains made
in the last several days, after the country said it would raise
state spending by nearly 30 percent from the original 2012 plan
in its budget for the new year. Bank Muscat, the
country's biggest bank, climbs 1.1 percent.
0545 GMT - Oman's index may climb further on
Wednesday after the country said it would raise state spending
by nearly 30 percent from the original 2012 plan in its budget
for the new year. Other regional markets are expected to be
upbeat because of positive global sentiment.
Oman's 2013 budget, announced late on Tuesday, envisages
spending of 12.9 billion rials ($33.5 billion) as the government
provides social benefits it promised after Arab Spring protests
Actual spending last year was around 13 billion rials, 30
percent higher than planned, and analysts believe actual
spending may continue increasing this year. The Omani finance
minister is expected to reveal more details at a news conference
on Wednesday morning.
The Oman index closed at a new seven-month high on Tuesday,
climbing for a fourth straight session.
Regional bourses may also advance, taking their cue from
Asian stocks. Asian shares hit a five-month high and the dollar
fell on Wednesday as a last-minute deal ended the U.S. "fiscal
cliff" crisis that threatened a U.S. recession and roiled world
Saudi Arabia's index, which unlike most Gulf markets
traded on Tuesday, closed 0.9 percent higher.
Dubai's market may aided to some extent by the
emirate's release of its 2013 budget, which raises planned
spending moderately while cutting the size of the deficit by 18
The market dropped on the last day of trading in 2012 after
the central bank unexpectedly issued regulations curbing home
mortgages. But it is unclear how strictly the rules will be
(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Andrew Torchia)