MIDEAST STOCKS-Mideast markets sluggish amid global volatility

DUBAI Wed Nov 16, 2011 10:56am EST

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DUBAI Nov 16 (Reuters) - Most Gulf Arab bourses eased on Wednesday after Asian shares and the euro fell on euro zone debt contagion fears, but weakness was limited with volumes muted.

Signs that rising borrowing costs were affecting AAA-rated France stirred fears that even core euro zone members may not escape contagion from the region's debt crisis.

World shares were generally lower with the MSCI all-country world index off half a percent.

"The global backdrop is slightly negative and so markets in the Gulf are flat to marginally lower," said Shahid Hameed from Global Investment House.

Qatar Telecom ended 0.4 percent higher after it said it acquired a further 7.45 percent of StarHub, Singapore's second biggest telecom company.

That helped lift Qatar's index, which, along with Bahrain, were the only markets to gain. Qatar's benchmark rose 0.1 percent and Bahrain's measure advanced 0.7 percent.

In the UAE, both the Dubai and Abu Dhabi measures retreated slightly. Emirates NBD weighed, down 0.3 percent and Dubai Islamic Bank fell 0.5 percent.

National Bank of Abu Dhabi retreated 0.5 percent while Union National Bank fell 0.7 percent and First Gulf Bank slipped 1 percent.

"The low volumes in the last two trading sessions in the United Arab Emirates goes to suggest that markets do not have enough power to break resistance levels technically," said Mohammed Ali Yasin from CAPM Investment.

Oman's benchmark fell for a fourth consecutive trading day easing 0.1 percent to 5,532 points. Bank Muscat declined 1.1 percent.

In Egypt, the index ended 0.2 percent lower as investors waited to see if the government would back down on a proposal to lay down principles for a new constitution in the face of opposition from many political parties.

"If the outcome is not favourable and the protest goes ahead, this will be a blow to the equity market," said Ahmed Abutaleb of Pharos Securities. "We are approaching the elections and Friday's protest might cause them to be delayed."

WEDNESDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

DUBAI

* The index slipped 0.1 percent to 1,387 points

ABU DHABI

* The main measure eased 0.2 percent to 2,476 points

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index declined 0.1 percent to 6,220 points

QATAR

* Doha's bourse rose 0.1 percent to 8,749 points

OMAN

* The measure fell 0.1 percent to 5,532 points

KUWAIT

* The index fell 0.1 percent to 5,871 points

BAHRAIN

* The benchmark advanced 0.7 percent to 1,159 points

EGYPT

* The benchmark fell 0.2 percent to 4,171 points (Additional reporting by Tamim Elyan in Cairo; Writing by Rachna Uppal; Editing by Firouz Sedarat)

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