November 8, 2017 / 2:33 PM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf continues fall on Saudi fears though state supports Riyadh

* Saudi again falls during day, state funds buy towards close

* Crown Prince, central bank seek to reassure on economy

* Prince Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding stabilises

* Qatar Navigation at eight-year low

* Tender offer boosts Global Telecom in Egypt

By Andrew Torchia

DUBAI, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Most major Gulf stock markets continued falling on Wednesday because of concern about Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on corruption, though Riyadh itself was supported by government intervention, fund managers said.

The Saudi stock index fell as much as 1.1 percent during the day in active trade but closed 0.04 percent higher. In the same pattern seen on every day this week, state-linked funds appeared to buy stocks towards the close in a deliberate effort to prevent panic.

Investors throughout the Gulf worry that the crackdown, which has so far frozen over 1,700 bank accounts in Saudi Arabia, will slow economic growth, force people implicated to sell off equities holdings and shrink Saudi investment flows around the region.

Al Tayyar Travel, whose founder Nasser bin Aqeel al-Tayyar has been arrested, fell a further 3.5 percent in its heaviest trade since it listed in 2012, after plunging 10 percent on each of the previous two days.

But Kingdom Holding, the investment vehicle of Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who was also detained, rebounded 0.7 percent to 8.16 riyals after losing 21 percent over the previous three days. The stock had fallen to book value, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones by 91 to 88. Some blue chips were strong, with petrochemical producer Saudi Basic Industries surging 1.4 percent.

In statements late on Tuesday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi central bank sought to ease worries about the anti-corruption purge.

They said that while individuals were being targeted and having their bank accounts frozen, national and multinational companies - including those wholly or partly owned by individuals under investigation - would not be disrupted.

Investors are not completely reassured, however. In the one-year forwards market, the Saudi riyal fell to its lowest level against the U.S. dollar since July, while five-year credit default swaps, used to insure against a Saudi debt default, rose to their highest since July.

The markets are still far from last year’s levels, which indicated concern about the risk of a currency depreciation, but they do show more foreign investors in Saudi Arabia are starting to hedge against the risk of an unpleasant surprise.

Dubai’s index tumbled 1.9 percent. Emaar Properties , which has benefited from Saudi money pouring into Dubai real estate, sank 3.1 percent.

Abu Dhabi dropped 1.1 percent and Qatar slid 0.9 percent as shipper Qatar Navigation (Milaha) plunged 5.5 percent to its lowest level since 2009. The company has been sinking since it reported in late October that nine-month net profit halved from a year earlier.

In Egypt, the index gained 1.1 percent as Global Telecom surged 7.1 percent to 7.55 Egyptian pounds after VEON Holdings, its parent, announced a mandatory tender offer for Global shares at a price of 7.90 pounds.


* The index edged up 0.04 percent to 6,936 points.


* The index sank 1.9 percent to 3,415 points.


* The index dropped 1.1 percent to 4,369 points.


* The index sank 0.9 percent to 7,856 points.


* The index rose 1.1 percent to 14,205 points.


* The index climbed 0.6 percent to 6,180 points.


* The index added 1.1 percent to 1,267 points.


* The index dropped 0.9 percent to 5,031 points. (Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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