* Dubai’s Arabtec, DSI gain after volatile week
* Etisalat climbs after rival plans cost-cutting
* Banks, petrochemicals support Saudi
* Egypt ends five-day losing streak
* Arabia Cotton Ginning outperforms on cotton outlook
By Celine Aswad
DUBAI, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Stock markets in the Gulf closed on a firm footing on Thursday in line with generally upbeat global shares and stabilising crude oil prices, while Egypt’s bourse ended a five-day losing streak.
Dubai’s index edged up 0.2 percent in thin trade. GFH Financial Group, the most heavily traded stock, jumped 4.4 percent.
Two builders that reported heavy net losses for the fourth quarter of 2016 several days ago managed to close in positive territory. Arabtec added 2.0 percent, although it was down 23 percent for the week, while Drake & Scull inched up 0.2 percent, losing 3.3 percent over the week.
Abu Dhabi’s index jumped 1.0 percent on the back of a 3.1 percent jump in blue-chip telecommunications operator Etisalat.
The stock rose after its chief competitor Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Co said it was aiming for 1 billion dirhams ($272 million) of savings by 2019 through changes to its cost structure, including operating expenses and capital expenditure. Shares in the company, commonly known as du, closed 0.7 percent higher.
Saudi Arabia’s index added 0.8 percent in thin trade. All but three of the 12 listed banks climbed with Samba Financial Group the chief gainer in the sector, adding 2.3 percent.
SICO Bahrain said Saudi banks would benefit from a rising interest rate environment in the United States, given the Saudi riyal’s peg to the U.S. dollar. Earlier this week, U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen made comments that hinted at a fairly hawkish policy stance.
“Rising interest rates would positively boost the banks’ net interest margin as floating rated assets get repriced,” said SICO.
Petrochemical shares were firm after Brent oil futures climbed over the $55.60 a barrel mark. Saudi Basic Industries added 1.0 percent.
In Egypt, the main index rebounded 1.6 percent to 12,652 points, after falling earlier this week below technical support at its early February low of 12,578 points.
Foreign funds were net sellers of Egyptian stocks as the country’s currency continued to rebound against the dollar.
Ibrahim Nimr, head of technical analysis at Naeem Brokerage, said: “The strength in the pound is a double-edged sword - on one hand it shows confidence in the revival of the economy, but on the other hand foreign funds that were key players in the stock market rally will want to exit to protect their returns.”
Arabia Cotton Ginning jumped 7.4 percent.
A surge in local cotton prices ahead of next month’s planting season, and a crackdown on fake Egyptian cotton worldwide, are reviving interest in the industry.
* The index added 0.8 percent to 7,131 points.
* The index edged up 0.2 percent to 3,651 points.
* The index rose 1.0 percent to 4,643 points.
* The index climbed 1.6 percent to 12,652 points.
* The index gained 0.1 percent to 6,824 points.
* The index added 0.8 percent to 10,819 points
* The index edged up 0.2 percent to 5,843 points.
* The index inched up 0.2 percent to 1,324 points.
Editing by Andrew Torchia and Jon Boyle