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Thu 21 Aug 2014 07:40 PM

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Qatar bourse hits record high as Gulf ignores oil price slump

Qatar's stock market is up 33% so far in 2014 as Industries Qatar drives increase

Qatar bourse hits record high as Gulf ignores oil price slump

Qatar's bourse hit a record closing high on Thursday ahead of MSCI raising the weights of three Doha-listed firms in its emerging market index. Other Gulf exchanges were also upbeat as investors shrugged off a renewed drop in oil prices.

The main Qatari index rose 0.7 percent to 13,776 points, up 33 percent in 2014.

Industries Qatar (IQ) was the main support, rising 1.4 percent. IQ has gained 10.5 percent since it posted a 38 percent drop in second-quarter profit on Aug. 10, missing analysts' estimates.

The stock's surge is apparently due to the planned increase in the company's weighting in MSCI's index, and to buying by dividend-seeking investors.

"IQ's (dividend) yield could increase - the company is going to be accumulating cash as its planned capital expenditure is going to be much lower over the coming years," said Fahd Iqbal, head of Middle East research at Credit Suisse.

"Until uncertainty over Qatar hosting the World Cup is resolved, I don't see a growth premium being put on Dohastocks. But Qatar's dividend yields mean you can still generate a decent return."

An investigation into the decision to award the 2022 soccer World Cup to Qatar and the 2018 tournament toRussia is now likely to be finished in September, FIFA said in July. Qatar has denied allegations of corruption.

In addition to IQ, Qatar Islamic Bank, which rose 6.0 percent on Thursday, and Qatar National Bank, which ended flat, are the two other Doha firms that will have added weight in MSCI's index from the end of this month.

Egypt's index fell 0.7 percent to 9,373 points. It has been see-sawing since Sunday's six-year peak as local and regional investors booked profits and foreign funds accumulated stocks. The latter were net buyers of 92 million Egyptian pounds ($13 million) worth of shares on Thursday.

"It's just a small correction and I expect the market to rebound next week - turnover is very low," said a Cairo-based trader who declined to be identified.

He said muted trading - volumes were down by nearly half from Wednesday - showed selling pressure was weak.

Global Telecom rose 5.0 percent after saying the fair price for its 51 percent stake in Algerian unit Djezzy was $2.54 billion, citing a report by financial advisers HC.

Global's parent firm, Russia's Vimplecom, has agreed to sell the stake in Algeria's biggest telecommunications operator to the Algerian government for $2.64 billion, a 4 percent premium on HC's valuation.

The company will hold an extraordinary shareholders' meeting on Aug. 26 to approve the Djezzy sale.

Dubai's index rose 1.1 percent to a 10-week high of 4,908 points, although trading remained thin and with much activity directed at small-cap firms. The measure has tripled since the start of 2013.

"There's scope for a short-term buying opportunity when UAE markets get over-sold and investors who missed out on the rally of the past couple of years step in," said Iqbal.

Three stocks - Islamic insurer Takaful Emarat, National Cement Co and Takaful House - made double-digit percentage gains. Combined, these companies have a market value of less than $500 million.

Retail traders often target small stocks when there is little market-moving news because these companies' share prices are easier to move and so allow quick trading profits.

Saudi Arabia's index climbed 0.2 percent to a new six-year peak, while Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain also rose.

Gulf stocks have been unaffected by a recent slump in oil prices - there are few listed regional energy companies. However, weak crude prices have hurt investor sentiment in the past.

"Oil has an impact through state spending - I wouldn't be concerned about government budgets being affected unless there is a large and sustained drop in oil prices," said Credit Suisse's Iqbal. "We're still above fiscal break-even levels."

Brent crude oil fell towards $101 a barrel on Thursday, just above a 14-month low, on plentiful fuel supplies and Chinese economic data pointing to slowing demand.

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