September 18, 2017 / 5:42 AM / in a year

MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar may continue to underperform as region firms on global trend

DUBAI, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Stock markets in the Gulf may rise on Monday, joining the uptrend of Asian shares and crude oil, although Qatar may continue to underperform as investors lack confidence in a speedy resolution to the regional diplomatic crisis.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan is up 0.9 percent to reach heights not visited since late 2007, while Brent oil futures are at $55.70 a barrel, not far off the almost five-month high of $55.99 hit on Friday.

Qatar’s index, however, is down 15.6 percent since Saudi Arabia and other Arab states cut ties with Doha in early June, while the Dubai index is up 8.7 percent during that period.

“The market is in free fall at the moment and until there is clarity about how the crisis will be resolved, I don’t see a floor,” said a regional fund manager.

Qatar Insurance may suffer on Monday after the company said its licence to operate in Abu Dhabi had not been renewed because of the “ongoing political situation” leading to the closure of it offices there.

Its Abu Dhabi unit, which had been operationg since 2002, used to be bring in revenue of 110 million Qatari riyals ($30.2 million), the company said.

In Saudi Arabia, home improvement retailer SACO may attract some interest after the company said it had opened its 28th store in the kingdom.

“The new opening is expected to increase the turnover and profitability for the company,” SACO said in a bourse statement, without giving details. (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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