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MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar keeps recovering, banking and insurance hit Saudi
October 10, 2017 / 2:42 PM / 2 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar keeps recovering, banking and insurance hit Saudi

* Qatar in technical rebound from five-year lows

* Foreign investors net buyers by large margin

* Saudi’s Bank Aljazira plunges on rights issue

* Insurers fall on regulators’ clamp down

* Iraq weighs on telecommunications firms in Kuwait

By Aziz El Yaakoubi

DUBAI, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Qatar’s stock market continued to recover on Tuesday from last week’s big losses, while Saudi Arabia’s main index was dragged down by the banking and insurance sectors.

The Qatari index rose for a third straight day in a technical rebound after hitting five-year lows last week. It was up 0.5 percent on Tuesday after gaining 0.9 percent on Monday.

Foreign investors from outside the Gulf were net buyers by a considerable margin and accounted for nearly 40 percent of buying, bourse data showed. Gulf investors were still almost absent, still deterred by the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and its neighbours that erupted in June.

Islamic lender Masraf al Rayan rose 0.7 percent but construction conglomerate Investment Holding Group fell 2.4 percent in active trade.

Saudi Arabia’s index fell 1.0 percent as most banking and insurance stocks were down. Bank Aljazira plunged its 10 percent daily limit after announcing that it would resubmit a request to the regulator for approval of a 3 billion riyal ($800 million) rights issue; it appointed Alinma Investment and JP Morgan Saudi Arabia as financial advisers. A rights issue would dilute existing shares.

Banque Saudi Fransi lost 3.3 percent while Saudi British Bank was down 1.9 percent.

Most insurers fell after regulators ordered nine insurance brokers to stop business, citing regulatory violations. The central bank has taken a tough stance on compliance in the insurance sector during recent months, suspending business at several insurance companies.

Insurer Malath sank 6.5 percent. Insurer Metlife AIG ANB Cooperative Insurance rose 0.8 percent, however, after saying it had been requalified for three years by the health insurance industry’s regulator.

Petrochemical firm PetroRabigh plunged 7.0 percent.

On Monday, Iraq’s central government said it would seek to have mobile phone firms move their headquarters to Baghdad after last month’s referendum on Kurdish independence, which it refuses to recognise.

In response Kuwaiti telecommunications firm Zain, parent of Zain Iraq, sank 3.6 percent in heavy trade. Zain Iraq is based in Baghdad, but the dispute raises the prospect of disruption to all operators’ Kurdistan business. Iraq was the single biggest contributor to Zain’s revenues last year.

Zain said on Tuesday it had signed a deal to sell and lease back more than 1,600 telecommunications towers worth about $165 million. The company said it expected to complete the deal in the first quarter of next year. However, the deal’s size appeared too small to have a major impact on profits.

Omantel, which said earlier this week it had signed a non-binding letter of intent to buy a further 12 percent of Zain from Kuwait’s Al Kharafi family, dropped 2.2 percent.

Kuwaiti logistics firm Agility, a major investor in Erbil-based Korek, fell 4.6 percent. Kuwait’s stock index lost 0.5 percent.

In Qatar, Ooredoo, which also has an Iraqi telecommunications subsidiary, rose 1.2 percent; Iraq accounts for only around 15 percent of its group revenue.

In Dubai, builder Drake & Scull, the most heavily traded stock in recent days, rose 2.1 percent in its largest trading volume since it listed in 2009, gaining for a fifth straight day. The stock has been surging since last Wednesday, after the firm completed a capital restructuring.

Dubai’s main index was marginally lower as GFH Financial dropped 1.8 percent.

HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index fell 1.0 percent to 7,041 points.

DUBAI

* The index edged down 0.1 percent to 3,609 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index climbed 0.5 percent to 4,472 points.

QATAR

* The index rebounded 0.5 percent to 8,253 points.

EGYPT

* The index fell 1.0 percent to 13,824 points.

KUWAIT

* The index edged down 0.5 percent to 6,613 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index fell 0.1 percent to 1,272 points.

OMAN

* The index lost 0.7 percent to 5,131 points. (Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Andrew Torchia and Alison Williams)

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