July 3, 2017 / 1:31 PM / in 23 days

MIDEAST STOCKS-Foreign funds bolster Qatar, Saudi edges up

4 Min Read

* Foreigners net buyers in Doha for third straight session

* MSCI constituents fare particularly well

* Local, other Gulf funds are net sellers

* Dana Gas outperforms in Abu Dhabi

* Saudi petrochemical shares firm as oil nears $50

By Celine Aswad

DUBAI, July 3 (Reuters) - Foreign funds helped Qatar's equities index rebound on Monday after a diplomatic deadline for Doha to comply with demands by four Arab states was extended by two days to Tuesday night. Saudi Arabia edged up on the back of petrochemicals.

Qatar's foreign minister arrived in Kuwait, which is acting as mediator, to respond to the demands. There is still no clear sign that Doha will accept enough of the demands to satisfy the four states or that the dispute will be resolved.

If not, fresh sanctions could be imposed - Saudi Arabia's Okaz newspaper reported that boycotting countries would ask international companies to choose between doing business with them or with Qatar.

But the Doha index, which had tumbled 2.3 percent on Sunday, rebounded 1.3 percent in modest trading volume. Foreign funds were net buyers for a third straight day, this time by a wide margin, bourse data showed; they accounted for roughly two-fifths of market turnover.

Doha Bank, a constituent of both the MSCI emerging market index and the FTSE Russell emerging index , added 3.3 percent. Telecommunications operator Ooredoo, also a member of both benchmarks, jumped 5.8 percent.

Local funds and other Gulf funds were net sellers on Monday.

In Dubai, the index rose 1.2 percent. Shares favoured by short-term retail traders were the most active, with GFH Financial soaring 6.3 percent and property developer DAMAC jumping 7.5 percent.

In Abu Dhabi, Dana Gas, the most heavily traded share, surged 6.1 percent after saying it had rescheduled to Thursday a telephone call with investors on restructuring its outstanding $700 million of sukuk. A previously planned call did not go ahead after Dana said a media report had "mischaracterised" the event.

Dana is claiming it must exchange the instruments for new ones at lower profit rates, which could be positive for its earnings as coupon cash outlays fall.

Blue-chip banks, however, dragged the Abu Dhabi index 0.7 percent lower. First Abu Dhabi Bank lost 2.4 percent.

The Riyadh index finished 0.1 percent higher at a fresh 21-month closing high after a late rise, posting its fourth consecutive session of gains. It had lost as much as 1.7 percent during the day.

Some of the previous session's top gainers diverged; dairy maker Almarai dropped 1.5 percent on profit-taking but Banque Saudi Fransi added 3.0 percent.

Petrochemical shares were firm as Brent oil headed back near $50 a barrel. Nine of the 14 listed producers rose; National Industrialization (Tasne'e) was the best performer, adding 2.0 percent.

Egypt's index fell 0.4 percent as property management company Amer Group lost 2.6 percent.

Regional funds have turned slightly bearish towards Egyptian equities, according to a monthly poll published by Reuters last Thursday. Asset managers said the market lacked a fresh catalyst to take it beyond the record high which it hit in June.

Highlights

Saudi Arabia

* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 7,493 points.

Dubai

* The index gained 1.2 percent to 3,425 points.

Abu Dhabi

* The index lost 0.7 percent to 4,414 points.

Qatar

* The index rebounded 1.3 percent to 8,937 points.

Egypt

* The index slipped 0.4 percent to 13,431 points.

Kuwait

* The index declined 0.7 percent to 6,565 points.

Bahrain

* The index fell 0.3 percent to 1,316 points.

Oman

* The index lost 0.6 percent to 5,089 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia/Keith Weir)

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