Stocks rose in the Middle East on Thursday after Brent oil climbed above $33 a barrel, and higher trading volumes suggested some investors were returning to the markets.
Valuations have plunged in recent weeks, but many traders and fund managers believe that if Brent is above $30, investor jitters should ease enough for stock markets to stage at least a short-term rally.
Saudi petrochemical stocks made solid gains, with Saudi Basic Industries, the largest such stock by market value, jumping 4.2 percent. The sub-index added 4.2 percent, underpinning a 3.2 percent rise in Riyadh’s main index to 5,880 points.
The index’s close above this week’s high was technically bullish because it triggered a minor double bottom formed by the lows since mid-January and pointing up to around 6,300 points.
A rise in volume on Thursday was also technically positive.
Dairy producer Almarai surged 9.8 percent, trimming its losses for the year to 14.1 percent.
Savola Group, the largest food producer in the region and a 36.5 percent shareholder in Almarai, rocketed 8.2 percent and at one point rising to its 10 percent daily limit.
It is now down 17.5 percent year-to-date.
Dubai’s share index rose 3.8 percent in the largest volume this year, cutting its 2016 losses to 9.3 percent.
Gulf Navigation Holding, an oil shipping company, jumped 5.3 percent in its third straight session of gains; it is up 22.2 percent this year.
Real estate developers also rebounded; Emaar Properties and Damac Properties jumped 4.9 and 8.5 percent respectively.
Dubai Islamic Bank DISB.DU traded up 3.4 percent. It had jumped 5.3 percent on Wednesday when the Islamic lender reported higher-than-expected fourth-quarter net profit.
National Bank of Abu Dhabi, listed on the Abu Dhabi exchange and the UAE’s largest lender by assets, gained 4.7 percent to close at AED7.38. It had dipped in early trade to a low AED6.90 after reporting a 24.5 percent drop in fourth-quarter net profit.
First Gulf Bank, which has not yet reported quarterly earnings, climbed 1.0 percent.
Dana Gas, the natural gas explorer, closed 4.8 percent higher, trimming its losses in 2016 to 15.7 percent.
In Qatar, the index rose 3.3 percent in the week’s highest volume of trade; it is down 12.0 percent year-to-date. Blue chips Industries Qatar and Qatar National Bank, which combined make up two-fifths of total market value, surged 6.3 and 5.5 percent.
In Cairo, the main index edged up 0.4 percent to 5,987 points in its fourth straight session of gains, but volume was the lowest of the week.
“Weaker volumes kept the bourse in narrow trade for most of the session,” said a Cairo trader. The index closed 13 points shy of 6,000 points, and until there is a clear break above that level, stocks will continue to trade within a narrow range, he said.
Egyptian and non-Egyptian Arab traders were net buyers, foreigners net sellers, exchange data showed.
Small-cap stocks favored by local investors were the top gainers. Juhayna Food Industries and El Sewedy Electric each traded up more than 5.0 percent.
Commercial International Bank and Global Telecom, two stocks with major foreign fund ownerships, dipped 0.2 and 0.6 percent.