5 Min Read
* Saudi now up 3.2 percent for the year
* Petchems volatile as investors focus on Q4 results
* Dubai outperforms as it catches up with region
* Etisalat weighs on Abu Dhabi
* Foreigners remain net buyers of Egyptian shares
By Celine Aswad
DUBAI, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Most stock markets in the Gulf rose on Sunday as investors cheered a rally in crude oil prices, while foreign buyers continued to support Egypt's index.
Brent crude futures ended their best week in at least five years on Friday, settling at $54.46 a barrel following OPEC's agreement to cut output to prop up prices.
Saudi Arabia's general market index added 0.5 percent in heavy trade, taking its gains for the year to 3.2 percent. The index was down as much as 21.6 percent only nine weeks ago as the economy struggled with low oil prices.
But a string of positive events over the last several weeks - principally the government's $17.5 billion international bond sale, its promise to settle delayed payments to the private sector, and the OPEC decision - has unleashed a wave of buying by institutional funds.
The latest report by the Saudi exchange showed institutional funds were net buyers of Saudi shares by a large margin last month, while retail investors, who often account for roughly 90 percent of activity, were net sellers.
Sunday's session was volatile in some sectors. Most petrochemical shares lost steam as investors booked profits, turning their focus to year-end earnings after factoring in the oil price rally.
"Now that there has been price discovery in crude markets following the OPEC deal, investors will be focusing on the quality names and those producers that can still offer attractive value at current prices," said a Jeddah-based portfolio manager.
After a strong rally in recent weeks, many petrochemical producers are now in line with what analysts estimate to be fair value. Yanbu National Petrochemical, for example, closed down 1.0 percent on Sunday at 51.00 riyals; analysts' average fair value estimate, according to Thomson Reuters data, is 49.73 riyals.
Second- and third-tier stocks favoured by local day traders outperformed. Saudi United Cooperative Insurance soared its 10 percent daily limit and Herfy Food Services jumped 5.0 percent.
The stock index in Dubai, which was closed for a public holiday on Thursday, gained 1.7 percent in heavy trade. Blue chips Emaar Properties and Dubai Islamic Bank each climbed 3.1 percent.
In Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi National Energy surged 10 percent on the back of strong oil prices and Union National Bank added 1.3 percent.
But Abu Dhabi's index was dragged 1.1 percent lower by telecommunications heavyweight Etisalat, which pulled back 3.5 percent. Funds may be exiting the stock, which is seen as a defensive investment, to enter oil-related shares and the bullish Saudi Arabian market.
Doha's main index closed up 1.0 percent as petrochemical producer Industries Qatar rose by that margin.
In Egypt, the index of the 30 most liquid shares added 0.7 percent as foreign buyers remained net purchasers of stocks by a small margin of $1 million, bourse data showed.
Foreign funds, which have been underweight in the Egyptian stock market compared to other emerging markets, have been net buyers since authorities floated the local currency on Nov. 3.
Industrial companies seen as most likely to benefit from improved access to hard currency after the float were among top gainers on Sunday, with GB Auto jumping 11.3 percent and Ezz Steel adding 5.2 percent.
Orascom Telecom Media, the most heavily traded stock, sank 5.3 percent after saying it was closing its Orabank affiliate in North Korea because of the complexity of complying with U.S. sanctions on that country. Orascom said its associate Koryolink would continue telecommunications operations in North Korea while complying with the sanctions.
* The index rose 0.5 percent to 7,130 points.
* The index gained 0.7 percent to 11,631 points.
* The index advanced 1.7 percent to 3,417 points.
* The index fell 1.1 percent to 4,262 points.
* The index rose 1.0 percent to 10,010 points.
* The index fell 0.3 percent to 5,555 points.
* The index added 0.4 percent to 5,610 points.
* The index dipped 0.2 percent to 1,176 points.
Editing by Andrew Torchia and Alexandra Hudson