* Petrochemical sector pulls Saudi up
* Shipper Bahri gains on cash dividend
* Dubai near flat; lowest volume in five weeks
* Blue chips support Abu Dhabi
* Egypt up but Qalaa Holdings slips on wider Q3 net loss
By Celine Aswad
DUBAI, Dec 18 Stock markets in the Gulf posted
small gains on Sunday after crude oil prices climbed back
towards 17-month highs at the end of last week, but trading
volumes shrank across the region. Foreign buyers continued to
bid up shares in Egypt.
Brent futures rose 2.2 percent to settle at $55.21 a
barrel on Friday after Goldman Sachs boosted its price forecast
for 2017 and producers showed signs of adhering to a global deal
to reduce output.
Saudi Arabian petrochemical shares were bid up on Sunday
with all 14 listed producers advancing, pulling the main Saudi
stock index 0.7 percent higher. Mid-sized producer
Sahara Petrochemical was the top performer, jumping
Saudi Cable Co rose 2.5 percent after saying its
Turkish subsidiary had won a $50 million order, with the
financial impact to start appearing by the end of the second
quarter next year.
Commodities transportation company National Shipping Co
(Bahri) climbed 1.5 percent after it announced its
board had proposed a cash dividend of 2.5 riyals per share for
2016, in line with 2015. Its dividend yield is at 6.0 percent,
according to Thomson Reuters data.
Dubai's main index closed almost flat as trading
volume fell to the lowest in five weeks, suggesting that many
institutional traders, which played a major role last week, were
largely absent on Sunday.
Emaar Malls Group rebounded 2.7 percent but
builder Drake & Scull, the most heavily traded share,
slipped 0.4 percent.
Blue chips helped carry Abu Dhabi's index 0.8 percent
higher. Dana Gas rose 1.9 percent and First Gulf Bank
climbed 2.0 percent.
Stock markets in Bahrain and Qatar were closed for national
Cairo's main index rose 0.6 percent to 11,398
points, but trading volume was the lowest since the central bank
floated the Egyptian pound on Nov. 3, triggering a bull market.
Foreign investors remained net buyers of Egyptian shares by
a small margin, continuing a trend which began with the currency
float, bourse data showed.
Orascom Telecom, the most heavily traded share,
added 2.6 percent and Ezz Steel jumped 10 percent. Ezz
reported sharply higher third-quarter sales at the end of last
week, though it continued to make a loss.
But Qalaa Holdings slumped 3.3 percent after the
company reported a wider third-quarter net loss of 208 million
Egyptian pounds ($11.2 million) against a loss 136 million
pounds a year earlier.
Analysts at Naeem Brokerage said in a note that the results
were due to weak operating performance at both continuing and
discontinued operations, impairments, and high interest costs,
adding that they anticipated more "painful exits and
impairments" in the next quarter.
"Fourth-quarter results could be impacted by translationary
FX losses as a result of the recent EGP float, originating from
its foreign currency-denominated debt of around $2.1 billion,"
* The index rose 0.7 percent to 7,138 points.
* The index added 0.6 percent to 11,398 points.
* The index edged up just 0.01 percent to 3,555
* The index rose 0.8 percent to 4,497 points.
* Kuwait's index lost 0.3 percent to 5,651 points.
* The index slipped a mere 0.01 percent to 5,728
(Editing by Andrew Torchia/Keith Weir)