January 3, 2017 / 5:46 AM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf may gain as oil, Asian bourses start 2017 strong

DUBAI, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Stock markets in the Gulf may rise on Tuesday as both crude oil prices and Asian bourses start their first trading day of 2017 with a firm tone.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan is up 0.4 percent as most regional markets reopen after New Year holidays. Brent crude oil is at $57.16 a barrel, close to last year’s high of $57.89, hit on Dec. 12.

Most activity in Dubai, where the index rose 0.2 percent on Monday, was by short-term speculative investors as many institutional and foreign funds were away for the holidays. They may start returning on Tuesday, bidding up prices of large-cap shares.

The petrochemical sector in Saudi Arabia, which lagged slightly on Monday, may get a boost from the rise in oil prices. Many analysts expect the sector’s fourth-quarter earnings to show improvement from the prior-year period.

Aljazira Capital said in a note that it expects sales in the final quarter of 2016 to have increased on a quarter-on-quarter basis, though margins may have contracted because of higher feedstock prices. (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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