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MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar slightly off 5-yr low as local traders buy, Saudi worst performer
September 19, 2017 / 2:10 PM / 3 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar slightly off 5-yr low as local traders buy, Saudi worst performer

* Qatar snaps 11-session losing streak

* Local investors net buyers in Qatar

* Dana Gas gains ahead of court hearing

* Egypt’s Heliopolis up after local media report on new projects

By Celine Aswad

DUBAI, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Qatar’s stock index came slightly off a five-year low on Tuesday as local funds intensified their buying of those shares, while Saudi Arabia was the region’s worst performer.

The Doha index had recorded 11 straight sessions of losses, reflecting a lack of foreign investor confidence in a speedy resolution to the Gulf diplomatic crisis.

Local investors, however, have been net buyers for several weeks and on Tuesday they made up roughly three-quarters of the total market turnover, bourse data showed, helping lift the index 0.1 percent higher.

Twenty shares rose including Qatar Gas Transport, which added 1.4 percent, and 16 others declined, including Qatar Insurance, which lost 2.5 percent. It had dropped 2.3 percent on Monday after the company said it was closing its Abu Dhabi branch because it had not been able to obtain a licence.

In Abu Dhabi, Dana Gas rose 1.3 percent ahead of a London High Court hearing on Monday and Tuesday over the validity of its sukuk. Last week Dana dismissed a proposal from bondholders for a restructuring of the $700 million Islamic bond.

The main index added 0.3 percent. In neighbouring Dubai, the index fell back 0.2 percent, weighed down by profit-taking on some of the previous session’s top gainers. Theme park operator DXB Entertainments lost 4.1 percent.

The Saudi index fell 0.6 percent as 10 of its 12 banking stocks declined including National Commercial Bank , which lost 1.5 percent.

At a two-day meeting beginning later on Tuesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to hold interest rates steady, with investors looking for clues on its anticipated pace of further tightening later this year and next. The market is pricing in an approximately even chance of a hike in December.

Most Gulf currencies are pegged to the dollar and any monetary policy change in the United States is usually mimicked by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar. A rate hike is considered positive for banks because it lifts their interest rate margins.

In Cairo, the index rebounded 1.0 percent as 20 of the top 30 shares rose. Shares of Heliopolis for Housing climbed 4.3 percent after the local financial Alborsa News said the firm planned to launch three new projects and management had set a sales target of 1.5 billion Egyptian pounds ($85.2 million) for 2018.

HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index fell 0.6 percent to 7,351 points.

DUBAI

* The index fell 0.2 percent to 3,655 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index rose 0.3 percent to 4,464 points.

QATAR

* The index rebounded 0.1 percent to 8,289 points.

EGYPT

* The index added 1.0 percent for 13,730 points.

KUWAIT

* The index edged up by 0.04 percent to 6,893 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index rose 0.3 percent to 1,303 points.

OMAN

* The index added 0.2 percent to 4,998 points. ($1 = 17.6000 Egyptian pounds) (Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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