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Tue 17 Jun 2008 06:04 PM

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Kuwait sets fresh record close

Benchmark makes it four consecutive positive closes, while Dubai's index drops almost 2%.

The Kuwait bourse continued its record-breaking form on Tuesday to end the day at another all-time high, rising for the fourth consecutive day.

Elsewhere Oman and Saudi Arabia closed up, while the other four Gulf markets all ended the day in the red, with Dubai dropping almost two percentage points.

Gains in Kuwait were driven by telecom Zain and Kuwait Finance House, which jumped 2.44 percent and 2.07 percent respectively.

The main index closed 0.53 percent higher at 15,509.40 points.

"We're in unchartered territory. There is a lot of positivity in the market and at some point that positivity needs a reality check. I think we need to correct soon," a trader said.

In Dubai the main index returned to its recent losing ways to make it five negative closes in six days.

Gains made in the previous session were completely wiped out as Emirates NBD and Dubai Islamic Bank dragged the benchmark down.

Dubai Islamic Bank fell 4.56 percent and Emirates NBD 2.89 percent, while the index fell by 1.78 percent to 5,560.22 points.

The negative sentiment continued in Abu Dhabi, with shares of Emirates Telecommunications Co. (Etisalat) and First Gulf Bank weighing on the UAE capital's main index.

Etisalat fell 1.23 percent and First Gulf Bank 1.48 percent, leading the index to close 0.53 percent lower at 5,117.76 points. The measure traded at a more than a two year high earlier in the day before reversing lower.

"Weakness is not restricted to a certain stock or two. It’s prevailing the market," said Mohamed Alami at Naeem Shares & Bonds. "In Dubai it's on a very significant level with losses of between 2 and 3 percent across the board."

Shares of Oman Telecommunications Co. (Omantel) and Raysut Cement Co. drove Muscat's main index to a higher close for a third consecutive day.

The stocks closed 1.03 percent and 0.32 percent higher respectively.

The index, the best performing measure in the Gulf Arab region, closed 0.13 percent higher at 11,741.99 points.

"We are positive on second quarter earnings. They should be good," said Ajeev Gopinathan at Gulf Investment Services, referring to Oman's index.

Retail buying drove shares of Voltamp Energy as high as 1.53 rials on their first day of trading on Oman'sbourse, nearly three times more than their issue price of 0.54 rial.

"Most of the activity is focussed on Voltamp," said Ajeev Gopinathan at Gulf Investment Services. Voltamp, a unit of Al Anwar Holdings that makes power transformers and switching gear, closed its $35 million initial public offering (IPO) last week more than 23 times oversubscribed.

It was the first IPO in Oman this year.

Saudi Arabia's main index closed 0.33 percent higher at 9,814.94 points, boosted by shares of Almarai Co.,the Gulf's largest dairy company by market value, which surged 9.42 percent, and Saudi Telecom Co., which rose 1.6 percent.

"There has been nothing official, nothing announced," said Abdulla Al-Aqil at Samba Financial Group, referring to the sharp rise in Almarai's share price.

"We're almost getting to the end of the second quarter where speculators start speculation on some of the large stocks."

The kingdom's index, the worst performing measure in the Gulf Arab region, is down by over 11 percent so far this year.

Qatar's main index fell 0.82 percent to 12,396.59 points, dragged lower by Qatar Commercial Bank, whichdropped 2.36 percent, and Qatar Islamic Bank, which tumbled 2.03 percent.

Qatar's index, the second best performing index in the Gulf Arab region after Oman, is up over 30 percent so far this year.

Ahli United Bank fell 2.99 percent to weigh on Bahrain's index, which slipped 0.63 percent to 2,882.10points.

Bahrain Telecommunications Co. (Batelco) declined 0.61 percent.