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MENAFN - The Peninsula - 17/06/2013
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(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Qatar Exchange index yesterday lost 55.39 points or 0.58 percent to 9,424.41 points from the previous closing of 9,479.80 points.

The volume of shares traded fell to 12,173,272 from 14,885,174 on Thursday, and the value of shares decreased to QR440,948,178.34 from QR654,108,235.95 on Thursday.

Among the top losers were Industries Qatar whose share dropped 1.20 percent to QR164.50, Commercial Bank of Qatar lost 0.97 percent to QR71.30, Barwa Real Estate fell 1.62 percent to QR27.35 and Masraf Al Rayan down 1.80 percent to QR27.35.

The banking and financial sector lost 0.48 points while the insurance sector was down 0.57 points. The industrial sector dropped 0.72 points and the services sector added 0.32 points.

Meanwhile, Kuwait's bourse rose yesterday on what traders said was buying by government-linked funds ahead of a politically sensitive court ruling. After the close, the court dissolved parliament and called for new elections, bringing fresh uncertainty to the state.

Most other regional markets fell in heavy selling, dragged down by escalating geopolitical tensions surrounding Syria and the shaky global environment for emerging markets.

Kuwait's measure climbed 0.3 percent, halting a two-session losing streak. The market is still up 34.1 percent year-to-date, in a rally driven mainly by retail investors, who have been encouraged by a government push on economic development and expected improvement in corporate earnings.

The Constitutional Court threw out opposition challenges to changes to the electoral system which had been decreed by the emir. It is not yet clear whether this will prompt a stronger campaign of opposition street protests, or whether the next parliament will be more or less willing to work with the cabinet to implement stalled economic projects.

"There are many people praising this resolution - but my only reservation is that we don't need any more obstruction in the movement of long-overdue economic development," said Fouad Darwish, head of brokerage at Global Investment House.

Darwish said the market outlook would depend on whether the previous parliament was reinstated or new elections took place.

But political uncertainty may trigger government buying through the National Portfolio Fund, established to support the market, he added. "I'm sure the government had its hand in the market to lift prices."

Elsewhere, most regional markets retreated. Dubai's benchmark lost 2.3 percent, cutting its 2013 gains to 44.6 percent. Abu Dhabi's measure retreated 0.9 percent.

As the Syria crisis intensified, Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi said he had cut diplomatic ties with Damascus and backed a no-fly zone over Syria. Saudi Arabia's king cut short a holiday abroad to deal with the issue of Syria, while the US said it would keep F-16 fighters and Patriot missiles in Jordan at Amman's request.

"The biggest discount to this region by foreigners is political risks, and although generally this risk is misunderstood and overdone, the situation in Syria is a real threat," said Amer Khan, fund manager at Shuaa Asset Management in Dubai. The instability in Syria could potentially affect the Suez Canal and therefore oil supplies, he added.


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