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UAE, Qatar extend drop as euro zone woes weigh

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UAE and Qatar markets end lower as investors cut risk, tracking declines on European bourses after divisions among European leaders dashed any hopes of concrete measures to tackle the region's debt crisis.

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June 28, 2012 4:52 by



UAE and Qatar markets end lower as investors cut risk, tracking declines on European bourses after divisions among European leaders dashed any hopes of concrete measures to tackle the region’s debt crisis.

Abu Dhabi’s index drops 0.9 percent to 2,448 points, a two-week closing low. Telecoms operator Etisalat is the main drag, falling 3.3 percent.

Dubai’s index eases 0.02 percent to 1,452 points, its sixth straight decline. Emaar Properties sheds 1.1 percent.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has brushed aside demands from Italy and Spain for rapid action to lower their soaring borrowing costs, and poured cold water on proposals backed by France for euro zone countries should assume joint liability for each other’s debts.

“Overall the picture is still not that positive. At this point in time, U.S. numbers are important as people monitor the economic recovery but more importantly, Europe is the issue,” says Ali Adou, portfolio manager at The National Investor.

“We don’t know how things will go … but risk is high and investors are cautious, especially in our region.”

Regional trading volumes remain low and foreigners have cut exposure to Gulf equities.

Oil prices also extend losses, adding to negative investor sentiment in the world’s top crude exporting region.

Second-quarter earnings season will start next week, but these will likely have little impact on stocks, with investors instead taking their cue from global markets during the summer lull.

“There might be some catalyst from earnings, but I don’t expect much of a move until Ramadan, unless we have some positive developments in Europe,” Adou adds.

The Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan, is expected to start in late July.

Elsewhere, Qatar’s benchmark slumps to a 10-month low, closing 0.5 percent lower at 8,123 points.

Heavyweight Industries Qatar sheds 1.2 percent, while Qatar Telecom drops 3.3 percent to its lowest finish since late February.

The operator offered on Tuesday to buy the 47.5 percent stake in Kuwait’s Wataniya that it does not already own. Wataniya’s shares have been suspended.

In Kuwait, the index ends 0.6 percent lower at 5,789 points, its lowest close since Jan. 23 amid a slow-burn political crisis.

Investors are waiting for a new cabinet and the recalling of the parliament. A court ruling last week dissolved a parliament dominated by opposition Islamists and reinstated the previous, more government-friendly, assembly.

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0648 GMT – Bargain hunters step in to help Dubai’s index rebound following six sessions of losses, while Kuwait renews declines as internal political tensions spur traders to reduce risk.

Dubai’s benchmark rises 0.4 percent to 1,458 points, up from Wednesday’s three-week low.

Union Properties jumps 6.7 percent, accounting for nearly half of all shares traded.

Air Arabia ticks up 0.2 percent and Deyaar Development adds 0.3 percent.

Elsewhere in the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi’s benchmark slips 0.5 percent to 2,459 points, down for a fourth session in five.

Gulf markets often drift over the summer and investors are extra cautious this year due to the euro zone’s spiraling debt crisis. Analysts doubt the bloc’s openly divided leaders can come up with a convincing solution at a two-day European Union summit starting late Thursday.

In Kuwait, the index drops 0.4 percent to 5,798 points, heading back towards Monday’s five-month low, with sentiment downbeat due to domestic political tension.

Thousands of Kuwaitis protested on Tuesday against a court ruling that effectively dissolved a parliament dominated by opposition Islamists and reinstated the previous, more government-friendly, assembly.

Qatar’s index is up 0.2 percent at 8,180 points, having touched a nine-month low in early trade.

Muscat’s measure rises 0.7 percent to 5,694 points, up from Wednesday’s five-week low.

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0559 GMT – Gulf markets are likely to be muted ahead of a weekend that promises to spell disappointment as European leaders meet, but gains in global shares on upbeat economic data from the United States may support sentiment on Thursday.

Asian shares rose on Thursday on encouraging U.S. economic data, which showed demand for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods rebounded more than expected in May, a gauge of planned business spending increased and pending home sales rose in May.

Investors however are tense ahead of a European Union summit deeply divided on how to tackle the protracted euro zone debt crisis and stop it spreading further.

“When you have better numbers, people will have more appetite – the UAE should receive the numbers favourably,” says Fouad Darwish, head of brokerage at Global Investment House.

Investors in Kuwait are unlikely to be moved however, as political uncertainty remains in the OPEC member state.

The emir reinstated the old parliament last week after dissolving the one elected earlier this year amid bickering with the government over corruption allegations that had held up economic reforms and economic development.

Kuwait’s index, which slumped to a five-month low on Monday, has since stemmed its decline.

“The market is embedded in political instability more than the rest of the region, but there are good signs we might have some institutional investors come in today or a realignment of existing funds may happen, which will help the market move forward,” Darwish adds.

In Oman, Renaissance Services plans to raise $112.2 million through a mandatory convertible bond sale, the company said on Wednesday.

Renaissance, a service provider to the oil and gas industry, plans to issue 423 million bonds, convertible at a price of 0.102 rials ($0.26) each as part of the sale.

Saudi Arabia’s bourse fell to a five-month low on Wednesday on jitters about political uncertainty in the region, including Syria, and most other Gulf markets also closed lower. ($1 = 0.3850 Omani rials) (Reporting by Nadia Saleem; Editing by Matt Smith)



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