June 4, 2018 / 8:00 AM / 10 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Dubai leads Gulf gains as DAMAC climbs; Saudi keeps rising

DUBAI, June 4 (Reuters) - Dubai’s stock market rose in early trade on Monday as shares in DAMAC Properties reached a four-week high, and most other Gulf markets gained as Saudi Arabia continued a rally triggered by the appointment of a new labour minister.

The Dubai index was up 0.9 percent with DAMAC gaining 3.4 percent to 2.43 dirhams. Dubai’s largest listed developer, Emaar Properties, rose 1.3 percent.

A monthly Reuters poll of leading Middle East fund managers, published on Thursday, found sentiment shifting in favour of United Arab Emirates equities after their poor performance so far this year.

Fifty-four percent of managers now expect to raise their allocations to UAE equities in the next three months and none plan to reduce allocations, the most positive balance since January 2017. The managers cited valuations, which have become cheap compared to booming markets such as Riyadh.

Abu Dhabi’s index was up 0.5 percent as Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (TAQA) rebounded 1.7 percent after plunging 8.0 percent on Sunday.

In Saudi Arabia, the index rose about 1.0 percent in the first 50 minutes, helped by gains in insurance and financial stocks. Al Rajhi Bank surged 2.6 percent, rising sharply for a second straight day after businessman Ahmed bin Suleiman al-Rajhi, a son of the bank’s founder, was named labour minister.

The market as a whole is positive about Rajhi’s appointment because he was a key figure in the private sector’s lobbying of the government to make its austerity and labour policies less damaging to businesses. The extent to which he may actually change policy is not clear, however. (Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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