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Sun 28 Dec 2008 11:44 PM

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Saudi stocks end losing streak, others mixed

Kingdom's bourse ends four days of losses, Sabic and Saudi Telecom winners.

Stock markets saw mixed trade across the Gulf Arab region on Sunday, with Kuwait falling by more than 2 percent, while investors piled into blue-chips in other markets, taking advantage of low stock valuations.

But sentiment was still cautious amid worries about the economic outlook and the impending fourth-quarter earnings parade. "The conditions that have affected the market still remain: oil still remains low, the global economy is still weak so nothing's changed," said Adel Nasr, local brokerage manager at United Securities in Muscat.

Oil prices were stubbornly below $40 a barrel, despite rising $2.36 to settle at $37.71 a barrel in New York on Friday, breaking a nine-day stretch of losing sessions.

Oman was the biggest gainer in the region surging more than 4 percent, its biggest one-day rise in more than 7 weeks, on strong interest in blue-chips by local institutions.

Kuwait was the biggest loser, sliding 2.4 percent to its lowest close since April 2005 as investors saw a gloomy outlook for company results early next year, while doubts lingered over the ablility of investment companies to meet their obligations.

Saudi Arabia ended more than 2 percent higher after falling for four consecutive trading sessions.

Qatar rose by over 1 percent while Bahrain fell for a third trading day.Muscat's benchmark, down nearly 45 percent so far this year, rallied 4.28 percent to 5,211 points.

Bank Muscat climbed 5.18 percent and Raysut Cement 8.07 percent. "This rebound was expected after the drop last week," said Nasr.

The kingdom's benchmark closed 3.14 percent higher at 4,686 points. Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) climbed 6.57 percent and Samba Financial 6.09 percent.

"People know stocks are very cheap but they are uncertain about the future," said Abdullah Al-Rashood, chief executive of KSB Capital. Qatar's main index climbed 1.19 percent to 6,714 points.

Qatar Telecommunications Co led the advance rising 3.68 percent while Industries Qatar gained 1.04 percent. "There are a few local funds that are targeting four or five stocks," said Amro Motasim, chief trader at Ahli Bank in Doha. "It's easy to manipulate the market."

Kuwait's benchmark fell 2.4 percent to 8,043 points, its lowest close since Apr. 3, 2005. Zain lost 5.05 percent and National Bank of Kuwait 6.25 percent.

The Bahraini index, down more than 33 percent this year, declined 0.47 percent to 1,824 points.UAE markets were closed to mark the new Islamic year.

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