* Egyptian investors believe militants can be contained
* Dubai falls but some stocks rebound near close
* Arabtec rises after winning Kazakh contract
* Qatar Insurance lifts bourse after UK acquisition
* Bahrain up as Arab Banking Corp surges on earnings
By Olzhas Auyezov
DUBAI, Feb 19 Egypt's bourse rose to a five-year
high on Wednesday, ignoring a militant threat against foreign
tourists, after the central bank said it would give local
commercial banks $1.4 billion to fund mortgages. Most Gulf
markets rose though Dubai was hit by profit-taking.
The Sinai-based militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis warned
tourists to leave Egypt and threatened to attack any who stayed
after Thursday. It is taking aim at an important part of Egypt's
economy and a key earner of foreign exchange.
But many Egyptian investors believe the government can
prevent the violence in Sinai from seriously destabilising the
rest of the country, and that billions of dollars of aid from
Cairo's Gulf allies will support its finances.
So the market focused on the central bank's announcement
that it would allocate 10 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.44
billion) for low-cost housing projects. The money will be
deposited at banks for 20 years at a low interest rate, so they
can then lend to citizens to buy houses at a yearly interest
rate of 7-8 percent.
In response, the main stock index surged 1.6
percent. Shares in Commercial International Bank (CIB)
, the country's biggest listed lender, which has been
gaining since Feb. 12 when it posted a 29 percent rise in
quarterly net profit, added 3.7 percent on Wednesday.
"The market is driven by optimism post-CIB results of last
week and new proposed funding to local lenders to stimulate
mortgage financing in Egypt," said Islam Batrawy, Cairo-based
head of MENA equity sales at NBK Capital.
Batrawy said of the threat to the tourist industry: "The
ultimatum is alarming. However, Sinai has been subject to such
incidents since January 2011...The market is disconnected from
such events for now."
Dubai's bourse posted a second consecutive loss, shedding
0.6 percent due to profit-taking. However, some stocks rebounded
towards the end of the session, indicating that the pull-back
could be short.
"Selective buying was there on lower support," said Shiv
Prakash, senior technical analyst at NBAD Securities. "We have
seen such corrections in the past and afterwards we saw new
buying and the market reached new highs."
Among gainers on Wednesday was builder Arabtec,
which added 0.6 percent after its unit won a $272 million
contract for mechanical, electrical and plumbing work at a
development run by Abu Dhabi's Aldar Properties in
Qatar's bourse rose 1.1 percent, largely on the back
of Qatar Insurance Co, which last week announced it
would buy Antares Holdings, owner of the Antares Syndicate 1274
at Lloyd's of London. The firm's stock jumped 26 percent on
Bahrain's index gained 0.8 percent as shares in Arab
Banking Corp jumped their daily limit of 10 percent,
after it reported on Tuesday a 17 percent increase in net profit
for 2013 compared with nearly flat earnings a year earlier.
The firm also said on Wednesday it was hiring Ray Ferguson,
current chief executive of Standard Chartered Singapore, as
chief banking officer.
* The index rose 1.6 percent to 7,741 points.
* The index fell 0.6 percent to 4,152 points.
* The index added 1.1 percent to 11,823 points.
* The index rose 0.8 percent to 1,358 points.
* The index gained 0.1 percent to 8,968 points.
* The index rose 0.3 percent to 4,883 points.
* The index gained 0.4 percent to 7,189 points.
* The index slipped 0.1 percent to 7,797 points.