Qatari stocks  gained 0.2% to 9,672 points to hit a fresh 58-month high yesterday. The QE index is approaching major psychological resistance at 10,000 points. Masraf Al Rayan rose 1.3% after posting a 13.3% increase in second-quarter earnings. It made a net profit of 421mn riyals ($116mn), slightly beating an average analyst forecast of 414mn riyals. Elsewhere, shares in Dubai construction firm Drake & Scull surged to an all-time high on speculation the firm might become a takeover target, while earnings optimism lifted UAE markets in general yesterday.
Drake, which specialises in mechanical work, engineering and plumbing, gained 8.4%. It has risen 64.8% year-to-date, partly on talk that that a strategic investor could buy a major stake, with builder Arabtec viewed by analysts as a possible buyer. Dubai’s benchmark climbed 0.5% to a near five-year high, extending its 2013 gains to 57.9%. In Abu Dhabi, the index advanced 0.7%, its 13th consecutive rise. Heavyweight telecoms operator Etisalat gained 1.3%, the main support for the bourse . Etisalat, the largest firm by market value, said it was boosting its interim dividend by 40% and posted a 6% rise in second-quarter net profit after royalties, roughly in line with forecasts.
It also confirmed it had entered exclusive talks with Vivendi to buy the French firm’s 53% stake in Maroc Telecom for €4.2bn ($5.54bn), a deal which would be Etisalat’s largest acquisition to date if completed. However, trading was thin in the stock, since ownership is limited to UAE citizens. Kuwait’s bourse gained 0.1% to a four-week high despite its largest firm by market value posting below-forecast earnings. The retail-dominated market is up 35.6% in 2013 on expectations for better earnings as the government moves ahead with big infrastructure projects.
“The market is above the 8,000 psychological barrier - there is an overwhelming consensus the government will soon invest in the economy and kick-start development projects,” said Fouad Darwish, head of brokerage at Global Investment House. National Bank of Kuwait was flat after reporting a 19% rise in second-quarter net profit to 47.2mn dinars ($166mn). In Saudi Arabia, the index eased 0.07% from Monday’s 15-month high. The banking sector index retreated 0.3%, outweighing a slight gain in petrochemical shares . The latter sector’s benchmark added 0.2%. Bahrain’s index eased 0.04% to 1,185 points. Oman and Egyptian markets were closed yesterday for public holidays.