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Wed 4 Jan 2012 10:53 AM

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Kuwait ends at 7-year low, UAE markets mixed

Oman's bourse snaps five-session rally; petrochemical stocks drag down Saudi index

Kuwait ends at 7-year low, UAE markets mixed
Dubai contractor Arabtec rose to a two-week intra-day high after its unit signed a $153m contract

Kuwait's stock index fell to a seven-year low on Wednesday
as foreign investors exited on political uncertainty in the Gulf Arab state,
while other regional markets were mixed.

Heavyweight telecom operator Zain fell 1.1 percent,
Commercial Bank of Kuwait shed 2.5 percent and Ahli United Bank dipped 1.2
percent.

The index slipped 0.5 percent, its largest one-day loss in
six weeks, to end at its lowest close since August 2004 .

"Surprisingly, there was a strong exit from foreigners
today on what little liquidity we have from them -- they don't like the
instability," said a Kuwait-based trader who asked not to be identified.

Kuwait's ruler has called an early parliamentary election
for Feb. 2, nearly two weeks after he dissolved the chamber after a
long-running dispute with the cabinet that has paralysed politics in the
oil-exporting country.

"We're less than a month away from elections and the
market will continue moving sideways - 20 points up or down," the trader
said.

In the UAE, markets ended mixed with Dubai's benchmark
slipping 0.3 percent and Abu Dhabi's index climbing 0.3 percent.

Emaar Properties shed 0.8 percent and logistics operator
Aramex dipped 1.6 percent.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank was the main support to the index,
rising 2.5 percent.

"Abu Dhabi's bank performance in 2011 was better than
people expected and it's a good buying opportunity at these levels," said
Samer al-Jaouni, general manager of Middle East Financial Brokerage Co.

"We might see some buying appetite for the banking
sector but if we are talking about price movement, we have to see institutional
funds coming into the market, which have been absent."

In Qatar, the benchmark ticked up 0.1 percent to a fresh
11-month closing high on local buying interest.

Barwa Real Estate rose 1 percent, Qatar Gas Transport
climbed 0.7 percent and Qatar National Bank gained 0.1 percent.

Saudi Arabia's index eased 0.09 percent, down for a second
session in five.

Petrochemical stocks were the main drag. Saudi Basic
Industries Corp (SABIC) and National Industrialization slipped 0.5 percent
each.

Sentiment was downbeat after Advanced Petrochemical Company
(APC) said it expected a fourth-quarter net profit of SR91m ($27m), a 2 percent
increase over the same period of 2010.

Bakheet Investment Group had estimated APC to post a quarterly
profit of SR121.1m.

Hesham Abo-Jamee, chief executive officer at Bakheet
Investment Group, said he expected petrochemical companies to post an annual
growth of about 20 percent, but little growth for the fourth-quarter, compared
to the earlier quarter.

In Oman, the bourse snapped a five-session rally, easing 0.1
percent.