Qatar Gas Transport Co (Nakilat) led gainers as Doha's index rebounds from Tuesday's drop, it's largest in six months, with investors taking positions ahead of a FIFA vote to decide the host country for the 2022 soccer World Cup.
Nakilat jumped 4.7 percent, its largest gain since Dec 2, 2009.
"Usually, rallies start with Industries Qatar, before moving to banks and then services and that's what we're seeing again, especially on Nakilat today," said Samer al Jaouni, general manager of Middle East Financial Brokerage Co.
"The stock had been ignored lately, although it has a good appetite from foreign investors. Nakilat's historically low dividends mean it hasn't attracted much attention, but 2011 should be a good year for the company and so people are starting to build positions," he added.
The index rose 0.3 percent to 8,148 points, its 11th gain in 12 sessions.
"Qatar is in a unique trend compared to other regional markets," said Jaouni.
"Investors are buying ahead of the World Cup vote and should hold above 8,100 until then. It will then move sharply up or down, depending how the vote goes."
Qatar is bidding against the US, Australia, Japan and South Korea for the rights to host the 2022 World Cup, with FIFA delegates voting on Dec 2 to decide the winner.
Kuwait bluechips mounted a late rally to enable the country's index to shrug off initial losses and end higher, rising 0.3 percent to 6,935 points.
Zain climbed 1.4 percent, National Bank of Kuwait added 1.5 percent and Kuwait Finance House gained 1.7 percent.
Oman's index ended lower for a fifth day, slipping to a three week low in muted trade.
Bank Dhofar is the main drag, dropping 2.6 percent, while other bluechips are mixed. Bank Muscat and National Bank of Oman each added 0.3 percent and Raysut Cement fell by the same margin.
The index dropped 0.3 percent to 6,535 points, its lowest finish since Nov 4.
"The volumes are on the lighter side, excluding block deals on Bank Muscat," said Osama Ibrahim al-Qinna, head of brokerage at Oman Arab Bank.
"Oman is still unaffected by the international developments," he added.
Shares in Asia and Europe steadied on Wednesday from a sell off following North Korea's deadly shelling of a South Korean island, but tension on the divided peninsula supported safe haven assets such as gold and Japanese government bonds.
Saudi Arabia's index slumped to a month low as petrochemicals and telecoms declined, while banks were mixed.
Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) and Saudi Telecom Co each fell 0.3 percent. Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) dropped 0.5 percent.
Banks are mixed. Samba Financial Group rose 0.4 percent, trimming its weekly losses to 4.1 percent, but Al Rajhi Bank slipped 0.3 percent.
"Banks continue to fall and it seems people are worried they will be asked to take more provisions in the fourth quarter," said a Riyadh based trader at an international bank.
The banking index edged 0.03 percent higher, but is down 7 percent in two months, extending losses since third quarter earnings broadly missed estimates after the central bank ordered lenders to take provisions.
"Banks are not a great story this year and possibly not next year either," said the trader.
"It's hard to see how banks can substantially raise their earnings. They were paralysed by the downturn and are being very conservative. All contractors are being funded by the government, so that has removed one of their main sources of income. You could buy banks as a share price recovery play, but not on fundamentals," he added.
The main index fell 0.4 percent to 6,271 points, slipping to its lowest level since Oct 23.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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