November 30, 2017 / 1:47 PM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi edges up to chart barrier, Qatar slips before MSCI decision

* Saudi index nears 200-day average

* Reuters poll finds funds positive on balance toward Saudi

* United Electronics climbs on partnership with

* MSCI to decide whether to switch to offshore FX rates for Qatar

* Nakilat surges on possible Fitch rating upgrade

By Andrew Torchia

DUBAI, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s stock market edged up to technical resistance on Thursday while Qatar’s bourse softened, as regional trade was thinned by the closure of markets including the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Egypt for public holidays.

The Saudi index added 0.5 percent to 7,004 points, rising for a seventh straight day to test resistance around 7,000 points, which has capped the market since mid-October and roughly coincides with the 200-day average, now at 7,014 points.

The market was hurt this month by Saudi Arabia’s massive crackdown on corruption, but in recent days there have been signs the damage is fading, with some detained suspects reaching settlements with the government and the number of frozen bank accounts falling after exceeding 2,000 at one stage.

A monthly Reuters poll of leading Middle East fund managers, published on Thursday, showed them on balance positive on Saudi Arabia despite the crackdown; 46 percent now expect to raise allocations to Saudi stocks in the next three months and none to reduce them, the most bullish bias since July.

Retailer United Electronics gained 2.4 percent after saying it had launched a partnership with online retailer to be its exclusive supplier of home and electronic appliances in Saudi Arabia.

In Qatar, the index fell 0.9 percent. Index compiler MSCI has said it will announce early next week whether it will switch to using offshore currency rates to value Qatari equities - a step that could potentially decrease their weightings in MSCI’s emerging market index.

Qatar Islamic Bank slipped 3.6 percent. But Qatar Gas Transport (Nakilat), the most heavily traded stock, surged 3.8 percent after credit rating agency Fitch put the company’s ratings on Rating Watch Positive.

Fitch said it was reviewing the links of state-controlled companies around the world and expected the review to assess a stronger link between Nakilat and the Qatari government than previously thought.

Shipper Qatar Navigation, which has been rebounding from an eight-year low hit in mid-November, jumped a further 6.7 percent.


* The index rose 0.5 percent to 7,004 points.


* The index dropped 0.9 percent to 7,714 points.


* The index edged up 0.06 percent to 5,110 points. (Editing by Alison Williams)

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