MIDEAST STOCKS-Kuwait hits 4-wk low on fear of trading suspensions; other mkts firm

Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:31am EST

Related Topics

* Kuwait companies have until end-February to report earnings

* Kuwait 15 index of top companies barely falls

* Dubai resumes rising but some funds flowing to Qatar

* Saudis shift to real estate shares from blue chips

* Egypt triggers massive double bottom

By Nadia Saleem

DUBAI, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Kuwait's bourse fell to a four-week low on Thursday as investors sold shares because of concern that shares of companies which have not yet reported earnings could be suspended from trading. Most other markets in the region were firm.

Kuwait's main index slid 0.8 percent to its lowest level since Jan. 19, while daily trading volume was the lowest so far this year.

"People are worried that companies will not fulfil CMA's (the regulator) rules on results," said Fouad Darwish, head of brokerage services at Global Investment House.

Companies have been given until the end of February to disclose fourth-quarter earnings or their shares will be suspended from trading. Darwish said only 75 percent of firms had so far posted results.

Small-cap Manazel Holding led trading volumes as it tumbled 7.7 percent.

Large-caps Zain and National Bank of Kuwait added to the downward pressure, losing 1.5 and 1.0 percent, but the Kuwait 15 index, which comprises the top 15 stocks, only eased 0.1 percent.

Darwish said some investors were booking profits to raise money and pay back loans that they had taken out for share trading. "It's just an inventory shake-up...The KW15 didn't change much, which gives comfort that there isn't an exodus by institutional investors," Darwish said.

DUBAI REBOUNDS

In Dubai, the bourse resumed gaining after two sessions of losses as fresh money came in. Emaar Properties advanced 2.1 percent and Union Properties, which led trading volumes, added 2.6 percent.

The main index rose 0.7 percent, extending its 2014 gains to 24.1 percent. Abu Dhabi's benchmark followed suit, advancing 0.7 percent to a new five-year high.

Some institutional investors remain concerned by the speed of Dubai's gains, however. Blackrock Frontiers Investment Trust, part of major global asset manager Blackrock, said in an update on its portfolio that it had cut its exposure to United Arab Emirates stock markets "substantially" last month because of signs the markets were overheating.

"We have noted the positive sentiment surrounding both Abu Dhabi and Dubai but are now beginning to (see) signs of speculative excess that warrants caution," it said.

Some money leaving the UAE is going to Qatar, which is seen as a more stable market. Doha's index climbed 0.4 percent to a new 67-month high on Thursday, standing up 14.4 percent year-to-date.

"Qatar could benefit now from investors moving from UAE to Qatar," said Ali Adou, portfolio manager at The National Investor. "Logically, it is defensive by nature. Local and international institutionals will take positions because of its discount."

Elsewhere, Saudi Arabian investors shifted funds to real estate shares as gains in blue chips slowed. Property developer Jabal Omar rose 6.6 percent and Dar Al Arkan gained 2.7 percent.

The Saudi index gained 0.2 percent as trading volume surged to its highest level since September 2013.

"People are now rebalancing their portfolios to target real estate and mid- to small-cap firms," said Hesham Tuffaha, head of portfolio management at a Riyadh-based investment company.

In Egypt, the benchmark index rose 0.7 percent, up for a fourth consecutive session to a new five-year high. It closed at 7,893 points, confirming a break above the April 2010 peak of 7,693 points.

That is very long-term bullish technically, triggering a double bottom formed by the 2009 and 2011 lows and pointing up ultimately above 11,000 points.

Investor sentiment is upbeat as the country nears presidential elections; Arabs were net buyers of stocks on Thursday while other foreign investors were sellers, bourse data showed.

THURSDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

KUWAIT

* The index fell 0.8 percent to 7,737 points.

DUBAI

* The index gained 0.7 percent to 4,183 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index rose 0.7 percent to 4,915 points.

QATAR

* The index advanced 0.4 percent to 11,872 points.

EGYPT

* The index climbed 0.7 percent to 7,893 points.

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index gained 0.2 percent to 8,989 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index rose 0.6 percent to 1,366 points.

OMAN

* The index slipped 0.3 percent to 7,167 points.

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