MIDEAST STOCKS-Kuwait rises to 26-mth high; regional mkts mixed

DUBAI, April 7 Sun Apr 7, 2013 9:06am EDT

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DUBAI, April 7 (Reuters) - Kuwait's small-caps helped lift the bourse to a 26-month high on Sunday as investors bet on improving earnings, while other regional markets were mixed.

Kuwait's index climbed 0.5 percent, its highest close since January 2011.

Turnover in the last three weeks has reached its highest levels since early 2012, a positive sign.

Small-caps dominated trade with leisure firm National Ranges surging 14.3 percent and International Financial Advisors rising 6.9 percent.

"People are buying in on the fact that companies have rectified their financials and are paying dividends - the bulk of the trades have been in small stocks," said Fouad Darwish, head of brokerage at Global Investment House.

Investors are also optimistic that the government will move ahead with infrastructure projects that have been held back by a long-running power battle between parliament and the government. Political tensions have eased somewhat since December elections in and the government has begun issuing some infrastructure contracts.

In Qatar, the market halted a three-session winning streak, losing 0.5 percent. Investors booked gains ahead of a new listing in May on Qatar's exchange, which hasn't seen an initial public offer since November 2009.

Doha Global Investment Co, a new $12 billion Qatari investment firm backed by the sovereign wealth fund, will offer its shares to the public.

Although in the long term its presence could aid the market, the offer will only be open to citizens, companies and institutions in Qatar, and the drain on liquidity could be negative in the run-up to the offer. Foreign investors will only be able to buy the shares after they are listed.

Local investors are selling shares to raise money that they will invest in Doha Global, and this trend is likely to continue gradually in coming weeks, traders said.

"If the IPO is Islamic, there will be a higher participation from Qatari investors," said Yassir Mckee, wealth manager at Al Rayan Financial Brokerage Co. "(The selling pressure) would open up buying opportunities for foreign and longer-term investors depending on how much the prices decline."

Losers outnumbered gainers 16 to three. Industries Qatar and Qatar National Bank decline 0.6 and 0.7 percent respectively.

In Saudi Arabia, the bourse ended little changed. Shares in Jarir Marketing rose 2 percent after posting estimate-beating first-quarter earnings.

Elsewhere, Dubai's measure declined 0.3 percent, halting three sessions of gains. Emaar Properties dipped 2.2 percent.

Abu Dhabi's index eased 0.09 percent, down from Thursday's 41-month closing high. Any break above resistance on the February intra-day peak of 3,069 points would trigger a bullish right triangle formed by the lows of the last few weeks, and pointing up to the 3,180-point area.

In Egypt, recent selling pressure brought in bargain hunters. The index rose 1 percent, extending gains since Wednesday's four-month low.

Commercial International Bank and Orascom Construction Industries rose 2.8 and 1.8 percent respectively.

EFG-Hermes gained 4 percent. The investment bank said on Sunday a merger deal with Qatari investment company QInvest will lapse on May 3 unless it receives long-awaited approval from Egyptian regulators.

SUNDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

KUWAIT

* The index rose 0.5 percent to 6,851 points.

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index eased 0.02 percent to 7,113 points.

EGYPT

* The index rose 1 percent to 5,033 points.

DUBAI

* The index slipped 0.3 percent to 1,875 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index eased 0.09 percent to 3,056 points.

QATAR

* The index declined 0.5 percent to 8,537 points.

OMAN

The index gained 0.4 percent to 6,133 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index advanced 0.2 percent to 1,091 points.

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