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Gulf markets surge as oil nears $39

The rise in oil prices shrugged off concerns about Moody's possible downgrade of GCC countries

Rising oil prices boosted stock markets in the Gulf early on Sunday, with construction firm Arabtec leading Dubai’s market up and Dana Gas jumping in Abu Dhabi.

Shares in Arabtec surged 8.0 per cent in the first hour of trade after a similar rise on Thursday. They have been swinging wildly in speculative trade since exchange data at the start of last week showed former chief executive Hasan Ismaik had raised his stake in the company to 11.91 per cent from 11.81 per cent. But his stake has not grown since then.

Other speculative shares favoured by local traders also attracted volume with builder Drake & Scull and Islamic investment firm Amlak Finance each advancing over 3.5 per cent. Dubai’s index was up 2.4 per cent.

Moody’s put the debt ratings of the United Arab Emirates and three other Gulf states on review for possible downgrade late on Friday. But many investors saw this as a belated response to old news, and focused instead on oil’s rebound near $39 a barrel in the past couple of weeks.

Abu Dhabi’s benchmark gained 2.7 per cent as Dana Gas, the most heavily traded stock, climbed 5.9 per cent. Real estate developers also rose with Eshraq Properties and RAK Properties adding 5.4 and 1.6 per cent respectively.

Qatar’s stock market is closed for a public holiday. (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia)