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Thu 8 Sep 2011 10:59 AM

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Zain climbs on stake sale optimism, markets mixed

Qatar's share index slips as investors remain cautious on the global economy

Zain climbs on stake sale optimism, markets mixed

Kuwait's Zain climbed to a five-week high on Thursday on
talk the telecom firm was closer to a $950m sale of its stake in Zain Saudi ,
as regional bourses ended mixed amid uncertainty in global markets.

Zain climbed to at its highest value since Aug. 4 after
market talk it was making progress in selling its 25 percent stake in its Saudi
affiliate.

"Market rumours have started again that they (Zain)
have made progress in selling their stake in Zain Saudi," said Shahid
Hameed, Global Investment House regional asset management head.

"This is boosting their shares ... The market is
expecting them to make a good profit from this sale."

Zain ended up 4.2 percent, trimming its year-to-date losses
to 35 percent. Kuwait's index rose 0.9 percent.

Zain has agreed to sell its stake in Zain Saudi to joint
bidders Kingdom Holding and Bahrain Telecommunications (Batelco).

However, Batelco's chief executive said on Thursday the $950
million deal was still weeks away.

The euro slipped against the dollar and stock markets rose
ahead of a European Central Bank meeting that is likely to flag a halt to its
monetary tightening cycle.

"For now, I expect regional fundamentals to take a back
seat as the global concerns are crucial for the markets," said Rami
Sidani, Schroders Middle East head of investment.

"There is an optimism prevailing globally in the
financial market driven by a potentially accommodating financial policy."

Brent and US crude oil futures, down during trading hours on
regional markets, later rose in choppy trade ahead of data expected to show
U.S. crude stockpiles fell last week.

"High oil prices have been providing a lot of comfort
to regional economies, allowing them to push ahead with infrastructure
spending," said Sidani.

Doha Bank climbed 2.6 percent to its highest level in more
than seven months, buoyed by Qatar's salary hike for state staff, but the
country's share index slipped as investors remained cautious on the global
economy.

The Gulf Arab state announced salary and pension hikes of up
to 120 percent for state and military staff.

Lender Masraf Al Rayan and Qatar Islamic Bank fell 0.4
percent each.

Qatar's benchmark dropped 0.4 percent.

Thursday’s highlights:

Kuwait: The
benchmark gained 0.9 percent to 5,963 points.

Qatar: The
benchmark fell 0.4 percent to 8,366 points.

Dubai: The index
dropped 0.5 percent to 1,481 points.

Abu Dhabi: The
measure eased 0.05 percent to 2,600 points.

Oman: The
benchmark rose 0.3 percent to 5,737 points.

Bahrain: The
measure rose 0.7 percent to 1,271 points.