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Tue 22 Nov 2011 12:06 PM

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Qatar bucks regional downtrend to end higher

Saudi market gives back early session gains as pressure from global demand hits sentiment

Qatar bucks regional downtrend to end higher
Abu Dhabis benchmark slipped 0.4% to 2,440 points, a March 2009 closing low

Saudi Arabia's market gave back early session gains as
pressure from global demand hit sentiment amid a regional decline on back of
global debt fears.

"Petrochemical and other leading stocks in Saudi are
directly correlated to demand from global market, namely Europe and Asia,"
said Tareq al-Madi, a Saudi-based analyst.

"With the outlook worsening on the international scene,
the expectation for profit for these companies keeps going down as well,"
he added.

The index fell 0.8 percent to 6,103 points, extending 2011
losses to 7.8 percent.

Trade was dominated by the insurance sector, with the index
slipping 3.9 percent.

Bellwether Al Rajhi Bank was the main drag, down 1.1
percent.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) fell 0.5 percent and
Saudi Kayan Petrochemical declined 2.8 percent.

Qatar's
benchmark bucked the regional downtrend and ends higher as investors bet on the
Gulf State's fundamentals.

Heavyweight
Industries Qatar was the main support, up 1 percent while banks also rise.

"One
person's loss is another's gain and this is the scenario in Qatar today, backed
by its strong fundamentals," a Doha-based analyst says.

"The
index is moving side-ways waiting for the positive news and a strong market
catalyst."

The
index ended 0.3 percent higher at 8,608 points, rising from Monday's three-week
low. Qatar was the best-performing market among regional peers with 2011 losses
at 0.9 percent.

"Qatar
is armed with major incentives, such as strong government support for the
banking sector and companies as well as excellent corporate earnings
numbers," the analyst adds.

Qatar
National Bank gained 0.4 percent, Doha Bank rose 1.6 percent and Commercial
Bank of Qatar climbs 0.8 percent.

Elsewhere,
in late buying typical of the Kuwaiti market, the index rose 0.2 percent to
close at 5,797 points.

In
Oman, the market ended 0.5 percent to 5,421 points, after foreign and local
investors increased cash positions, according to traders.

Heavyweight
Bank Muscat slipped 1.9 percent and Renaissance Services shed 3.8 percent.

Dubai's
bourse slumped to its lowest close since mid-2004 in a steady decline on low
trading volumes as the global scenario dampens interest in UAE markets.

The
benchmark slipped 0.3 percent to 1,351 points, its lowest close since June
2004.

"There
is a sell-off in global markets and people here are looking at that, that's the
issue," said Hashem Montasser, managing partner at Frontlane Capital, a
Dubai-based asset management firm.

"We
haven't had any good news for some time now which means lower participation
from both international and regional investors."

Bellwether
Emaar Properties fell 0.8 percent, and was down 29 percent so far in 2011.

Daily
trading volumes have dwindled on the UAE's markets in the past two years after
a property bubble burst and a credit crunch hit Dubai and Abu Dhabi, causing
several brokerages to shut down operations. Monthly trading volumes in Dubai
fell from 11.2 billion shares in October 2009 to 1.2 billion shares last month.

Abu
Dhabi's benchmark slipped 0.4 percent to 2,440 points, a March 2009 closing
low. Heavyweight National Bank of Abu Dhabi fell 1.9 percent and Etisalat shed
0.4 percent.

"Short
of a large macro-level catalyst, the risk is that our markets will continue
downward, slowly but surely," Montasser added.

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