MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar at 10-day high on dividends; Gulf mkts mixed
DUBAI Jan 23 (Reuters) - Dividend seekers lifted Qatar's bourse to a 10-day high on Wednesday, while UAE markets also rallied in a lacklustre session ahead of a long weekend for most markets.
Doha's measure climbed 0.3 percent to its highest close since Jan. 13.
Shares in Qatar International Islamic Bank advanced 4 percent to an 11-month high after the company proposed a 35 percent cash dividend at 3.5 riyals per share. Its full-year net profit grew 4 percent to 679 million riyals.
"Qatar is a market dominated by local investors and company results are pretty consistent and in line with expectations - transparency is pretty good," said Julian Bruce, EFG Hermes director of institutional equity sales in Dubai.
"Consequently, (stock) moves are usually associated with dividends rather than earnings."
Other banks also gained, with Masraf Al Rayan and Commercial Bank of Qatar rising 0.6 and 0.5 percent respectively.
Qatar Telecom climbed 0.8 percent, up 5.8 percent so far in January. The operator plans to issue a maximum of $1 billion in a two-part bond sale on Wednesday, arranging banks said.
In Abu Dhabi, shares in Aldar Properties climbed 4.4 percent, up from Tuesday's near three-week low. It hit a 21-month closing high on Thursday, but then fell after its long-awaited merger with Sorouh Real Estate was confirmed on Monday.
"We saw the run-up ahead of the merger announcement and it was a classic case of buy on rumour, sell on the news," Bruce said.
Once the merger is approved by shareholders, Sorouh will delist from the market and shareholders will be paid 1.288 Aldar shares for every Sorouh share. Some analysts view the swap ratio as unfavourable for Aldar shareholders.
Sorouh climbed 4.2 percent. On Monday, it rallied to its highest close since December 2010.
Moody's has placed Aldar under review for a possible upgrade.
"The Aldar-Sorouh merger will be credit positive with the combined group having a stronger and more conservatively positioned financial profile than the current B2 rating suggests," Moody's said in a report.
Appetite for UAE property stocks was also aided by the central bank's decision not to introduce new mortgage lending limits boosting, Bruce said.
The u-turn by the central bank followed fierce protests from banks.
Abu Dhabi's benchmark climbed 1.1 percent, rebounding from Tuesday's 10-day low. The market is up 5.8 percent in January, following a 9.5 percent rise in 2012 and backed by an improving economic backdrop.
Dubai's index rose 0.9 percent, up for a first session in last three since Sunday's 32-month high.
The index is facing long-term resistance near 1,793 points, the peak of October 2010.
Emaar Properties climbed 2.8 percent, Dubai Islamic Bank rose 1 percent and National Central Cooling (Tabreed) added 1.8 percent.
In Egypt, the bourse made marginal gains ahead of the second anniversary of the revolution, despite concerns from local investors.
The anniversary of the first day of demonstrations against Hosni Mubarak in 2011 - January 25 - is expected to trigger protests against new President Mohamed Mursi and his Islamist allies.
Buying picked up from non-Arab foreigners, who were net buyers, while Arab investors were net sellers, according to bourse data.
Palm Hills Development gained 1.6 percent, the heaviest traded stock. Large-cap Orascom Telecom added 0.2 percent, while Orascom Construction Industries was the only loser on the index, slipping 0.9 percent.
The measure advanced 0.2 percent to 5,689 points, up for a fourth session in the last six.
"The EGX30 is still moving flat after the failure to break above the key resistance of 5,900 points," said Mohabeldeen Agena, head of technical analysis at Cairo's Beltone Financial. "We are expecting the current flat movement between 5,500 and 5,900 to continue before any significant move."
In Saudi Arabia, the index slipped 0.1 percent to close at 6,998 points, hovering around the key psychological 7,000 level.
"Everyone is watching the 7,000 level and wants the market to trade above that level this year," said Abdullah Alawi, assistant general manager and head of research at Aljazira Capital in Jeddah. "Above 7,000 would indicate that we are in an uptrend, while anything below that could signal that we are in a lacklustre trend."
Shares in Saudi Integrated Telecom plunged 7.3 percent to its a six-month low.
Real estate stocks weighed with Emaar Economic City slipping 2.6 percent and Dar al Arkan and Jabal Omar each shedding 1.2 percent.
All regional markets, with the exception of Qatar, are closed on Jan. 24 for Prophet Mohammed's birthday.
* The index slipped 0.1 percent to 6,998 points.
* The index climbed 0.2 percent to 5,689 points.
* The index rose 1.1 percent to 2,783 points.
* The index advanced 0.9 percent to 1,792 points.
* The index gained 0.3 percent to 8,683 points.
* The index climbed 0.2 percent to 6,203 points.
The index slipped 0.3 percent to 5,820 points.
* The index declined 0.3 percent to 1,070 points.
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