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Kuwait stocks slump to new seven-and-half-year-low
Source: BI-ME with Reuters , Author: Posted by BI-ME staff
Posted: Fri January 6, 2012 9:38 am

UAE. Kuwait's market slumped to a new seven-and-half-year-low on Thursday on political uncertainty in the Gulf state, while regional bourses ended mixed with many investors away on holidays and global markets providing few cues.

The Kuwaiti index fell 0.5%, its fourth consecutive decline, to end at its lowest level since August 2004, with little buying interest among investors.

"There is a downtrend in Kuwait because of political issues and it's still expensive so the trend should continue," Sebastien Henin, portfolio manager at The National Investor, told Reuters.

Kuwait's ruler has called an early parliamentary election for February 2, nearly two weeks after he dissolved the chamber following a long-running dispute with the cabinet that has paralysed politics in the OPEC oil-exporter.

Telecoms operator Zain fell 1.2% and Kuwait Finance House declined 1.1%.

Elsewhere, Oman International Bank (OIB) rose 3.2%, after a local newspaper cited unnamed sources as saying its merger talks with HSBC were at an advanced stage.

In October, the two banks confirmed they were in talks over merging their operations in the Gulf Arab state.

"OIB has a strong balance sheet and with HSBC, we see robust growth in the merger," said Adel Nasr, United Securities brokerage manager.

Muscat's benchmark gained 0.3% to its highest close since September 2010.

In Dubai, contractor Arabtec gained 1.9%, helping lift the emirate's index.

Arabtec said on Wednesday it had won a US$153 million contract for the expansion of Dubai airport.

"There are still a few rumors regarding Arabtec that one shareholder is trying to buy a large stake," Henin said.

Dubai's benchmark edged up 0.2% but it is in a five-month declining trend.

Dubai Investment gained 4.1% and logistics operator Aramex climbed 1.7%.

In Abu Dhabi, banks were the main drag on the index which slipped 0.7% in its largest one-day drop in two weeks.

National Bank of Abu Dhabi dipped 0.5%, First Gulf Bank fell 1 percent and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank dropped 2.8 percent.

In Qatar, the index eased 0.07%, slipping from Wednesday's 11-month high.

Industries Qatar fell 0.6 and United Development declined 3.1%.

Banks gained, with Commercial Bank of Qatar climbing 0.6%, and Masraf Al Rayan rising 0.4%.

"Trading in Qatar was relatively thin today, with some key stocks seeing wider spreads,"  Sleiman Aboulhosn, assistant fund manager at Al Masah Capital, told Reuters.

"There aren't any specific catalysts at the moment and global markets are relatively calm as many traders are standing aside in anticipation of U.S. job-related numbers due today and more importantly tomorrow. We'll probably see activity tick up a notch next week."

In Egypt, the index fell 0.7% to 3,628 points.



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