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MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar jumps on hope diplomatic dispute will be resolved
December 4, 2017 / 1:18 PM / 9 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar jumps on hope diplomatic dispute will be resolved

* Qatar’s emir to attend annual Gulf summit in Kuwait

* Stock index surges 2.2 percent from near six-year lows

* Beaten-down real estate firm Ezdan leaps 10 percent

* Saudi index rises for ninth straight day

* Emaar Properties rebounds in Dubai

By Andrew Torchia

DUBAI, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Qatar’s stock market jumped by its biggest margin in nearly five months on Monday because of hopes that Doha’s diplomatic dispute with four other Arab countries will be resolved. Most other Gulf markets were firm.

The Qatari foreign minister said late on Sunday that Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani was expected to attend the annual summit of Gulf Arab heads of state in Kuwait on Tuesday and Wednesday.

There was no immediate comment from other Gulf nations on the Qatari announcement, and events at the summit are difficult to predict. Nevertheless, investors hope Sheikh Tamim’s attendance will be a step towards renewed dialogue with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

Qatar’s stock index, which has been trading near six-year lows, surged 2.2 percent as trading volume more than doubled from Sunday’s level. The index remains 20 percent below its level just before the Arab states imposed sanctions on Qatar in June.

Real estate firm Ezdan Holding, which has been hit hard by a downturn in the Qatari property market that was worsened by the diplomatic crisis, soared its 10 percent daily limit.

Qatar Insurance, which has operations in the UAE, gained 4.7 percent. Banks, which have suffered from outflows of Gulf deposits due to the crisis, were also strong with Qatar International Islamic Bank up 4.0 percent.

Another big gainer was drilling rig provider Gulf International Services, up 9.7 percent.

United Arab Emirates markets, reopening after a long weekend due to public holidays, also climbed. Dubai added 0.3 percent as blue chip Emaar Properties, which has been pulled down in recent months by the slump in Dubai’s real estate market, rebounded 2.8 percent.

Abu Dhabi climbed 1.0 percent as the most heavily traded stock, Aldar Properties, climbed 1.4 percent.

Investment company Al Qudra Holding listed on the Abu Dhabi exchange’s second market and was the second most heavily traded stock, closing at 1.23 dirhams compared to its par value of 1.00 dirham.

Saudi Arabia’s index rose for a ninth straight day to 7,103 points in active trade, confirming a break above its 200-day average, now at 7,015 points.

The market has been buoyed by signs that Saudi Arabia’s massive crackdown on corruption is winding down without doing major damage to the economy; major new arrests appear to have stopped and the number of frozen bank accounts has been falling, commercial bankers say.

The market would welcome any resolution of Saudi Arabia’s dispute with Qatar, which has alarmed many investors, and is also hoping for an end to the war in Yemen after former president Ali Abdullah Saleh signalled on Saturday that he was abandoning his support of the Iran-aligned Houthis.

Cement firms were among the strongest Saudi stocks on Monday; reconstruction in Yemen could fuel regional demand for cement. Najran Cement climbed 9.9 percent in its heaviest trade since 2012, while Southern Province Cement added 7.0 percent.

Egypt’s index dropped 1.0 percent after more than a week of strong gains. Real estate developer Palm Hills retreated 2.4 percent.

HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index edged up 0.2 percent to 7,103 points.

DUBAI

* The index rose 0.3 percent to 3,432 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index added 1.0 percent to 4,327 points.

QATAR

* The index surged 2.2 percent to 7,930 points.

EGYPT

* The index dropped 1.0 percent to 14,572 points.

KUWAIT

* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 6,222 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index fell 0.5 percent to 1,274 points. (Editing by Larry King)

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