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Mon 19 Jan 2009 10:24 AM

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Kuwait, Oman, Qatar markets end at multi-year lows

UPDATE 8: Investors fear poor Q4 results and lack of immediate government action.

Markets in Kuwait, Oman and Qatar closed at multi-year lows as investors worry about weak fourth-quarter earnings and a lack of immediate action from governments to help their ailing stock markets.

Kuwait's benchmark index KWSE closed down 1.84 percent at 6,851 points, its lowest closing level since March 2005.

Mobile Telecommunications Co (Zain) lost 6.33 percent, while National Bank of Kuwait fell 5.88 percent.

"There are still the worries about Kuwait's investment companies. We still haven't heard any plans from the government to support them," says Rami Sidani, head of investment for Mena at Schroeders.

Kuwaiti Central Bank Governor Sheikh Salem al-Sabah on Sunday urged investment firms to make their own plans to deal with the impact of the global credit crunch, rather than expecting help from the state.

A lack of information on a government fund to prop up the Arab world's second-largest bourse was also undermining sentiment, Sidani says.

Earlier this month, Kuwait's finance minister said 300 million dinars ($1.03 billion) had been pumped into the bourse as part of the 1.5 billion dinar fund.

Qatar's index QSI ended 1.44 percent lower at 5,332 points, its lowest close since July 2004.

Qatar Gas and Transport (Nakilat) took most points off the benchmark, ending 5.56 percent lower. Qatar National Bank which last week posted a decline in fourth-quarter profit, lost 2.16 percent.

Oman's main index MSI ended down 4.26 percent at 4,807 points, its lowest close since August 2006.

Dubai construction firm Arabtec slipped 9.68 percent after London-based Meed reports the construction firm will postpone work on a 2.4 billion dirham ($653.4 million) project for at least a year after developer Emirates Sunland decided to delay the project.

The benchmark DFMGI declined 1.97 percent to 1,605 points, with Emaar Properties and Emirates NBD losing 2.22 percent and 4.46 percent respectively.

Abu Dhabi's main index ADI closed up 1.28 percent at 2,345 points, ending a four-day losing streak.

Emirates Telecommunications Co (Etisalat) gained 2.36 percent, adding the most points to the index.

National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank climbed 4.18 percent and 6.25 percent respectively.

Bahrain's main index BAX closed 2.24 percent down to 1,706 points, its lowest close since October 2004.

Ahli United Bank and Gulf Finance House led losses, ending 8.33 percent and 7.5 percent lower respectively.

Saudi Arabia's main index TASI closed up 0.15 percent at 4,656 points, lifted by Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), which gained 1.58 percent.

Shares in Almarai Co ended 1.65 percent lower, reversing earlier gains as investors took their cue from a quarter-on-quarter decline in profit, rather than a 13.5 percent profit increase in the fourth quarter compared to last year.

The Gulf's largest dairy firm by market value made 219.2 million Saudi riyals ($58.45 million) in the three months to Dec. 31, compared to 293.68 million riyals in the previous quarter, according to Reuters data.

Savola Group, which in the previous session posted a fourth-quarter loss after booking 676 million riyals of provisions of investments, tumbled 9.9 percent.

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) slashed key interest rates earlier on Monday, reducing its benchmark repurchase rate to 2 percent from 2.5 percent and its reverse repurchase rate to 0.75 percent from 1.5 percent. (Reuters)



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