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Middle East mixed, sovereign fund buying lifts Qatar

Reuters , Thursday 10 Sep 2015
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Middle East stock markets were mixed on Thursday, supported by oil's turnaround but also affected by a pull-back in global equities.

Markets in Asia and Europe fell on Thursday after weak economic data from China and Japan. But oil prices, which had initially fallen on the same data, pared losses and were slightly positive when most markets in the Gulf closed.

Saudi Arabia's stock index edged down 0.4 percent and National Commercial Bank, the kingdom's biggest lender, was the main drag, sliding 1.7 percent.

Rating agency Fitch said on Wednesday it expected some deterioration in Saudi banks' asset quality, particularly in the contracting and construction sector, and also in retail portfolios over the next 18 months.

Dubai's index slipped 0.1 percent. Mortgage lender Amlak Finance, which had surged 3.8 percent on Wednesday, fell 1.8 percent and most other property names were also negative.

Meanwhile, logistics firm Aramex rose 1.6 percent after the company said on Thursday it was in discussions with Orascom Telecom Media and Technology to build five logistics areas in Egypt.

Abu Dhabi's bourse added 0.8 percent as most stocks in that emirate rose.

QATAR, EGYPT

Qatar's index rose 1.7 percent, outperforming the region after data from the country's central securities depository showed that sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority had increased its stake in Qatar Islamic Bank to 17.36 percent from 16.90 percent.

The stock surged 3.5 percent and most other companies in Doha also rose.

Egypt's main index edged down 0.2 percent as the majority of stocks fell. However, cable maker El Sewedy Electric surged 5.6 percent to 42.90 pounds after NBK Capital upgraded the stock to "buy" with a fair value estimate of 54.00 pounds.

"We believe that the operating environment is continuing to improve for El Sewedy in its home market, supported by the large recent 785 million euro project award as well as its pipeline of further projects," it said in a note.

Ezz Steel rose 1.6 percent after its main owner Ahmed Ezz was registered as a candidate for the parliamentary election following a long legal battle.  

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