* High volumes in Abu Dhabi sign of positive sentiment
* Newly merged lender share soar 10.7 pct since official tie-up
* Dubai up for sixth consecutive session
* Oil over $54.5 boosts petrochemical shares in Saudi
* CIB buoys Egypt, but other shares fall on profit taking
By Celine Aswad
DUBAI, April 5 (Reuters) - Stock markets in the Middle East firmed on Wednesday with Abu Dhabi outperforming its peers for a second day as institutional investors targeted blue chips, while crude oil near a one month high boosted Saudi Arabia.
Abu Dhabi’s index climbed 2.0 percent on the back of a 4.1 percent jump in shares of newly merged lender First Abu Dhabi Bank. It has now soared by 10.7 percent since Sunday, when the National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank tie up became official in very high volumes.
Farid Samji, head of asset management at Dubai-based Daman Investment, attributed the exceptionally high volumes to the inflow from the change of weighting in the emerging market indexes, including the MSCI Emerging Market index and the FTSE secondary emerging market index.
“But that alone does not explain the spike in turnover, the other factor is that people are taking a positive view on the stock because of the synergies post the merger and those who sold ahead of the combination are now returning to buy,” Samji said.
The positive mood spilled into other blue chips lenders. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank climbed 1.3 percent in above one month average daily volume.
“Volumes give a sense of optimism,” said Samji.
In neighbouring Dubai, the index rose 0.4 percent, it sixth consecutive session of gains, as most blue chips outperformed their smaller peers. Emaar Properties climbed 0.9 percent, but a 4.5 percent slump in Emirates Integrated Telecommunication (du) restrained gains as its shares went ex-dividend on Wednesday.
In Saudi Arabia, all but one of the 13 listed petrochemical producers rose, helping lift the index 0.9 percent higher. Yanbu National Petrochemical jumped 3.5 percent.
Shares of electronics retailer United Electronics, the first company to report first quarter results, jumped 7.4 percent after the company swung to a net profit of 12.9 million riyals ($3.44 million), compared to a loss of 45.9 million riyals in the prior year period.
The company estimated total sales for the first quarter to have increased 8.3 percent to 805 million riyals compared to the same period last year.
Egypt’s index closed 0.2 percent higher at 13,290 points, but 117 points off its intra-day high. The only share on that index that closed higher was Commercial International Bank , which added 0.9 percent.
Most other shares wiped out gains from earlier in the day. Investment firm EFG Hermes closed down 1.5 percent to 25.59 Egyptian pounds ($1.42), after hitting a session high of 26.45 pounds.
* The index rose 0.9 percent to 7,051 points.
* The index added 0.4 percent to 3,573 points.
* The index jumped 2.0 percent to 4,641 points.
* The index rose 0.7 percent to 10,467 points.
* The index added 0.6 percent to 7,060 points.
* The index edged up 0.2 percent to 13,290 points.
* The index edged up 0.2 percent to 1,351 points. ($1 = 3.7502 riyals) ($1 = 18.0300 Egyptian pounds)
Editing by Jon Boyle