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MENAFN - The Peninsula - 03/08/2009

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(MENAFN - The Peninsula) For the first time in weeks, strong net buying support was witnessed from Qatari retail investors on Qatar Exchange yesterday.

Local institutional investors showed a similar propensity, buoying the stocks a bit despite weak net buying from foreign small as well as institutional investors.

The 20-share main index of the bourse went slightly up as result. With 83 points increase, the index stood at 6,763.64. The market capitalization rose proportionately to QR288.37bn.

Three of the four counters gained at the close of trading yesterday with banking and financial services stocks rising 1.11 percent. Insurance shares did not perform as well and lost 1.69 percent as a result.

Some 19 of the 43 listed stocks showed gains, while 14 lost and eight remained unchanged.

Among top gainers were Al Manai and Qatar Insurance and General Insurance Company, which, in a record of sorts, jumped 10 percent each touching the maximum limit by which a share can fluctuate either way (up or down) on a single trading day.

Ezdan, Medicare Group, National Leasing, Qatar Shipping, Qatar Islamic Bank and First Finance were the other major advancers. Losers included Vodafone Qatar, Gulf International, Gulf Warehousing and Qatar Islamic Insurance. According to analyst Thamer Hassan, it were mainly banking stocks which buoyed the market and not the two which rose 10 percent. He said there was a lack of liquidity or the market would have consolidated its previous gains.

Rising oil prices helped Oman's index make its largest gain for two weeks, but other Gulf markets were subdued as a summer trading lull deepened.

Saudi Arabia's index declined for the third session in four, Dubai and Kuwait were almost unchanged, while Qatar and Abu Dhabi hit their highest closing levels since mid-June.

Dubai's Emaar Properties fell 1.1 percent after the firm reported a second-quarter loss of 351.2m as it wrote off the complete book value of a US unit.

"Emaar opened weak and buyers came in at lower prices," said Matthew Wakeman, EFG-Hermes managing director for cash and equity-linked trading. "If you strip out the write down, Emaar's figures were okay, but a loss is a loss and people are wary ahead of its merger and they want to know how minority shareholders will be treated."

"Emaar may fall further, with little to motivate institutional investors to buy back in," said Wadah al-Taha, a Dubai-based financial analyst. "Emaar's results will have confirmed to strategic investors that they were right to exit the stock following Emaar's merger announcement."

Oman's index closed higher for the first session in four, climbing 1.9 percent.

"If oil prices continue to hold around 68 to 70 a barrel and global sentiment remains okay, the Oman market should continue to be strong," said Hassan Tawfiq, a senior broker at United Securities in Muscat.

Oil climbed 3.8 percent on Friday, buoyed by better-than-expected economic data from the US and a weaker dollar.

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (Taqa) climbed 3.2 percent, rising for a third day since it said it was buying the energy unit of Dutch chemicals group DSM NV for 407m. Abu Dhabi's index climbed 0.6 percent to its highest finish since July 17 and 12th rise in 13 sessions.

National Bank of Abu Dhabi fell 2.2 percent, its first reverse for a week. The stock surged 42 percent between July 13 and July 30. On Tuesday, NBAD reported a 9.3 percent drop in quarterly profit, which was a smaller decline than analysts had predicted.

"NBAD reported strong numbers in the second quarter and it is well positioned to weather the current challenges," said Ali Khan, managing director and head of brokerage at Arqaam Capital.


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