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Sun 11 May 2008 05:48 PM

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Markets get week off to sluggish start

Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and UAE indexes all fell as banks and developers drag on main indexes.

Gulf markets got off to a sluggish start to the week on Sunday with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain the only two benchmarks to end the session in positive territory.

Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE indexes all fell as banks and developers dragged on the main indexes after the Gulf region had rallied into the end of last week.

Saudi Arabia was the day’s best performer, helped by strong trading from Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic), which finished the day 0.18% higher, and Al-Rajhi bank, which gained 0.86% for the session.

The Banks & Financial Services measure on Saudi’s Tadawul All Shares Index was the market’s strongest performing sector. It posted a 3.63% rise to help the main benchmark, the largest by market capitalisation in the GCC, to gain 2.02% for a close on 9,695.29 points.

The kingdom’s measure, however, remains the worst performer of the Gulf this year. It has lost 1,343.37 since January 1, down 12.17% to Sunday's close.

Bahrain was the day’s only other positive performer amid a series of negative closes elsewhere. The Gulf state’s main index ended 0.37% higher at 2,824.86 points, helped by Ahli United Bank, which rose 0.8%.

Dubai led losses for the rest of the GCC’s markets after it posted a 1.52% decline to end the day on 5,741.55 points. Emaar and Emirates NBD drove the index lower as the two slumped 2.11% and 2.02% respectively.

In Abu Dhabi, it was telecom Etisalat and First Gulf Bank that weighed on the capital’s measure. Etisalat fell 0.92% while First Gulf slipped 1.95% to drag the index into the red. The benchmark finished the session on 5,006.24 points, down 0.57% to end.

“The market is dominated by retail but we're witnessing very low volumes today,” EFG-Hermes' Amr Diab told newswire Reuters.

“So I think that when the Saudi market corrected yesterday when we had a 4% downturn, it affected the retail component,” Diab said, speaking of the impact Saudi's market had on the rest of the Gulf region's indexes.

Kuwait’s market also finished lower to end nine days of consecutive gains. Telecom Zain and Kuwait Financial House weighed on the benchmark as the two fell 1.14% and 0.67% respectively. The index ended the session on 14,966.30 points, down 0.61%.

After posting its highest close in almost two and a half years last Friday, Qatar followed the general trend of its neighbours on Sunday and slipped 0.22%. The index fell to 11,709.77 points as Qatar Gas Transport Company (Nakilat) and Commercial Bank of Qatar dipped 1.6% and 1.01% respectively.

The best-performing index of the year also faultered as telecom Omantel and Raysut Cement dragged Oman’s benchmark down 0.42% to close on 11,276.74 points.

The two fell 1.33% and 0.86% respectively. Despite the day’s loss, Oman remains the Gulf’s best-performing market of the year, up around 25%.