* Saudi petchems surge after bullish comments by OPEC official
* Banks rise on hopes U.S. interest rate hike will boost margins
* Industries Qatar lifts Doha bourse
* UAE markets stabilise after sell-off
* Egypt resumes rally as weaker pound fuels bets on property
By Olzhas Auyezov
DUBAI, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s petrochemicals sector surged on Tuesday after OPEC’s secretary-general said oil prices might have bottomed out and warned of a jump to $200 a barrel if investment in new supplies became too low.
Brent crude traded above $48 per barrel, also supported by a slightly weaker U.S. dollar.
The main Saudi stock index jumped 2.4 percent in the heaviest trade this month, as shares in petrochemicals giant Saudi Basic Industries surged 6.4 percent to 84.00 riyals. All other stocks in the beaten-down sector also rose.
Banks also did well after Kuwait’s Global brokerage issued a bullish report on the Saudi banking sector on Monday, saying recent regulations restricting consumer-related fees would have only a short-term negative impact on banks’ profitability.
“Expecting an increase in (U.S.) Fed rates in the third quarter of 2015, we see net interest margins following suit,” it said. “Market erosion has also unearthed some valuable gems, which may not have been there otherwise.”
Samba Financial Group and Saudi Fransi, which according to Global are best positioned to benefit from the expected U.S. interest rate hike, rose 3.2 and 6.2 percent respectively.
Telecommunications firm Etihad Etisalat stabilised and closed flat, having tumbled its daily 10 percent limit for two sessions in a row after its fourth-quarter results widely missed estimates last week.
Industries Qatar, the Gulf’s second-largest petrochemicals firm, rose 1.7 percent and was the main support for Doha’s index, which edged up 0.7 percent.
Gulf International Services, whose business includes providing drilling rigs and other services to oil and gas companies, jumped 3.0 percent.
Shares in Masraf Al Rayan, Qatar’s second-largest bank by market value, rose 1.0 percent after it reported a 21.2 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit.
The lender’s profit for the three months to Dec. 31 was 548 million riyals ($150.5 million), according to Reuters calculations. Three analysts polled by Reuters had on average forecast a profit of 535.1 million riyals.
Telecommunications firm Ooredoo fell 1.4 percent after brokerage NBK Capital on Monday downgraded the stock to “hold”, citing increasing competition faced by its foreign units and political instability in Iraq, where the company also operates.
Other Gulf markets, which have no major petrochemicals stocks listed, were weaker. Kuwait edged down 0.7 percent after the country’s finance ministry revealed a draft budget for the next fiscal year starting in April, which projects a big deficit and a 17.8 percent drop in spending from the original plan for the current 2014/15 year.
However, Kuwait’s budget plans are only very rough guides to reality and the current year’s expenditures are likely to be much lower than planned, so there might be no sharp drop in spending next year.
Bourses in Dubai and Abu Dhabi slipped 0.1 percent each. Dubai developer Union Properties tumbled 5.8 percent after its 2014 profit fell 45.6 percent and revenues more than halved.
Builder Arabtec, on the other hand, surged 5.2 percent after the bourse said its main shareholder, Abu Dhabi fund Aabar Investments, had received regulatory approval to buy a further 100 million shares. It is not clear from whom the shares would be bought.
Egypt rose 1.1 percent to a fresh 6-1/2-year closing high of 9,947 points. Property firms Medinet Nasr Housing and Development and Heliopolis Housing led gains, surging 4.7 percent and 3.9 percent respectively as Egypt’s central bank continued its gradual depreciation of the pound.
The pound slipped to 7.43 per dollar from 7.39 at a central bank auction on Monday, to the weakest level it has been allowed to reach since auctions began in December 2012. It was the sixth consecutive official depreciation in the past week, prompted by the gap between the black market and the official rate.
Investors are betting that Egyptians will turn to property as a hedge against a weaker currency, analysts have said.
* The index jumped 2.4 percent to 8,686 points.
* The index slipped 0.1 percent to 3,720 points.
* The index inched down 0.1 percent to 4,530 points.
* The index rose 0.7 percent to 11,920 points.
* The index added 1.1 percent to 9,947 points.
* The index edged down 0.7 percent to 6,615 points.
* The index fell 0.8 percent to 6,592 points.
* The index fell 0.8 percent to 1,417 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia)