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Tue 8 Apr 2008 11:20 PM

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Kuwait index hits all-time high

Kuwait benchmark paces gains as markets across much of Gulf finish in positive territory for the day.

Markets across much of the Gulf finished in positive territory on Tuesday as investors snapped up undervalued stocks weighed down over the last couple of weeks by uncertainty about the health of the global economy.

Kuwait led the rally, hitting a new all-time high, followed by Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. Only Dubai and Bahrain extended losses into a second day.

Kuwait's benchmark crossed the 14,600-point mark for the first time to a record-high, rising 0.95% to 14,626.3 points.

Commercial Bank of Kuwait and National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) paced the gains, rising 3.9% and 1.04% respectively.

Qatar National Bank and Qatar Gas Transport Company (Nakilat) extended gains in Doha into a sixth consecutive session.

Qatar National closed 1.66% higher and Nakilat ended up 3.13%. The main index, which has gained more than 3.5% since April 1, finished the day up 1.09% on 10,079.33 points.

Shares of Bank Dhofar surged almost 10%, driving the Oman index to a higher close as investors reacted to talk of a merger. Bank Dhofar ended up 9.97%, while Bank Muscat rose 1.1%.

"There are rumours in the market about some kind of merger," Adel Nasr, local brokerage manager at United Securities, said, quoted newswire Reuters.

The index, which has gained in the last six sessions, closed 1.22% higher at 10,866.27 points.

Abu Dhabi's benchmark climbed 0.47% to 4,760.34 points, gaining for a fifth session in the last six. Telecom Etisalat ended 1.45% higher and National bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) closed up 1.29%.

Shares of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) and Riyad Bank lifted the Saudi index, extending gains into a second day.

Riyad Bank closed 5.96% higher, its biggest single-day gain since March 5, after the bank said on Monday it
had won approval to raise $3.5 billion through a rights issue. Sabic shares jumped 1.26%, helping the index inch up 0.14% to 9,423.58 points.

Shares of Emaar Properties and Emirates NBD weighed, as the Dubai index extended losses into a second day.

Emaar and Emirates NBD fell 0.89% and 1.35% respectively. The index, down almost 8% to Monday's close, slipped 0.84% to 5,435.95 points.

In Bahrain, the index slipped for a second day, declining 0.24% to 2,840.82 points. Gulf Finance House (GFH) dropped 0.25% and United Gulf Bank ended 2.5% down.

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