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Sun 21 Aug 2011 10:29 AM

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UAE, Qatar end lower, banks seen attractive

Investor mood hurt on fears US, European economies may see double-dip recession

UAE, Qatar end lower, banks seen attractive

Saudi Arabia's index dipped further after hitting a 23-week low on Saturday, as weak global stocks continued to weigh on investor sentiment.

Petrochemical stocks led the decline with heavyweight Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) slipping 0.3 percent after a rally earlier in the trading session.

The petrochemical index slipped 0.2 percent.

Bank stocks also fell, with the kingdom's largest lender Al-Rajhi Bank down 0.4 percent.

The benchmark ended 0.3 percent lower at 5,916 points.

Investor sentiment took a hit on renewed fears that the US and European economies may see a double-dip recession, pulling Oman and Kuwait's markets lower.

Muscat's index ended 0.6 percent lower at 5,492 points, easing from Thursday's 10-day high.

Battered stock Renaissance ended flat after it gave back marginal early-session gains, triggered after company officials said Renaissance will meet its short-term commitments as it focuses on turning around Topaz, its troubled engineering unit.

Losers outnumbered gainers 20 to zero. Bank Muscat led declines and ended 1.9 percent lower.

Elsewhere, Kuwait's index dropped 1 percent to close at 5,764 points, slumping to a fresh seven-year low.

Global Investment House slumped 10.4 percent and Kuwait International Bank dropped 5.6 percent.

"I personally think that Kuwait faces two challenges - the troubled investment companies and wages that devour the majority of the oil revenues," said Safaa Zbib, head of research at Kuwait and Middle East Financial Investment Co.

Investment firms took a nose-dive earlier this year after the Capital Market Authority said investment funds are not allowed to invest more than 10 percent of total assets in a single security and investment firms require separate licences to operate their lending and investment businesses.

UAE and Qatar markets ended with a sell-off across sectors, with jittery investors dumping stocks on macro-economic fears as the possibility of US and Europe heading back into recession takes centre stage.

Property stocks led by turnover in Dubai, with Emaar Properties falling 1.8 percent and Arabtec down 0.7 percent. The benchmark was off 4.2 on the month.

Abu Dhabi's Dana Gas declined 1.8 percent after reports the energy firm picked banks to arrange its planned listing on the London Stocks Exchange.

Losers outnumbered gainers 21 to three on the index

"Concerns over economic indicators and fears of the economy going back into a recession-- that kind of concern will have an effect on commodity prices, petrochems and our markets," said Haissam Arabi, chief executive and fund manager at Gulfmena Investments. "What we're seeing is natural."

"We're starting to shift from aggressive names to domestic names because fundamentals remain strong in the GCC. This might create opportunity for banks to pick up. They're doing well and are cheap right now," Arabi added.

Dubai's index fell 1.1 percent to 1,453 points and Abu Dhabi's market also slipped 1.1 percent to close at 2,556 points.

Elsewhere, Qatar's index ended 1.2 percent lower at 8,096 points, but Vodafone Qatar limited losses after rising 0.6 percent.

All other stocks fell with Masraf Al Rayan - most active by volume - dropping 0.9 percent.


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