Egypt: Plans for a 2nd economic stimulus package of $4.4bn lifted the main index to a 35-month high…

Egyptian shares rose yesterday, lifting the main index to a 35-month high, after the finance minister announced plans for a second economic stimulus package worth around 30bn Egyptian pounds ($4.4bn).

The spending, 25% more than previously announced and financed partly with aid from the Gulf, is to begin in January. Finance minister Ahmed Galal said 20bn pounds would be spent on public investment, while the rest would cover a public sector minimum wage.

Cairo’s benchmark index rose 1.2% to 6,720 points, its highest level since January 2011, before former president Hosni Mubarak was ousted.

“The market is reacting positively to the second stimulus plan and the confidence that they have the funds for this,” said Islam Batrawy, Cairo-based head of regional equity sales at NBK Capital.

Juhanya Food Industries jumped 5.5% and Commercial International Bank gained 1.0%.

In Saudi Arabia, shares in Saudi Hollandi Bank climbed 4.5% to their highest close since October 30 after the lender said it planned to boost its capital by 20% next year through a bonus share issue.

After rising almost 10% in each of the past two days, PetroRabigh showed signs of losing steam, gaining only 5.3%. It has been climbing since it said its parent companies agreed to cut international marketing fees for PetroRabigh’s products by a third over a five-year period.

The overall Saudi market stayed quiet; the main index gained just 0.3% to 8,412 points, a five-year high. The market is up 23.7% year-to-date, heading for its best year since 2009.

Mohammad Omran, president of Riyadh-based private firm Gulf Centre for Financial Consultancy, said the market could target the 8,500-point level by year-end.

“Petrochemicals, telecoms and banking will be the leading sectors in the coming year, but growth in banks will be modest.”

In Abu Dhabi, banking shares that lagged the recent leg up by Dubai’s bourse played catch-up. The Abu Dhabi index climbed 1.3% to its highest level since September 2008;

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank rose 5.6%.

Waha Capital surged 14.9% to its highest level since September 2008 after the company said it would vote in favour of AerCap Holdings’ $5.4bn acquisition of American International Group’s aircraft leasing unit.

The company is AerCap’s largest shareholder with a 26.3% stake, though if the deal is completed, Waha’s stake will be reduced to about 14%, it said.

Dubai’s index climbed 0.3% to 3,144 points.

Oman’s market gained 0.5%, outperforming most of the Gulf. On Monday, BP announced it would drill some 300 wells for gas under the Omani desert over the next 15 years in a $16bn project that may give a significant boost to the economy, which is about $80bn in size.

Elsewhere in the Gulf, Kuwait’s index retreated 0.6% to 7,609 points; Oman’s measure gained 0.5% to 6,795 points, while Bahrain’s gauge edged up 0.07% to 1,207 points.

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