MIDEAST STOCKS-Egypt rises as new c.bank chief arrives; Gulf sluggish


* Hopes that new Egypt c.bank head can resolve FX crisis

* Shares in port services companies rise

* Saudi cement firms up on hopes for export liberalisation

* UAE’s Dana Gas soars on arbitration award in Kurdistan

* Real estate-related stocks soft in Dubai

By Andrew Torchia

DUBAI, Nov 29 (Reuters) – Egypt’s stock market rose on Sunday as a new central bank governor took office, increasing hopes that the country’s foreign exchange crisis can be resolved, while bourses in the Gulf were mostly sluggish.

Tarek Amer, a well-regarded former commercial banker, was to head the first meeting of the Egyptian central bank’s new board on Sunday.

Many people expect him to work with the government to try to end a foreign currency shortage by regulating imports and supporting exports, which could benefit many listed firms. He is expected to be more generous in allowing the private sector to obtain foreign exchange.

Bolstering investor sentiment, the central bank kept the Egyptian pound steady at its foreign currency auction on Sunday and the pound rose slightly in the black market.

But with Egypt’s tourism revenues hit by last month’s apparent bombing of a Russian passenger plane over the Sinai, Amer faces a very difficult challenge, and many economists think a devaluation of the Egyptian pound is inevitable at some stage.

The Egyptian stock index climbed 0.8 percent with United Arab Stevedoring, which could benefit from any increase in trade through Egypt’s ports as a result of changes to foreign exchange policy, gaining 2.6 percent in unusually heavy trade. Canal Shipping Agencies rose 4.2 percent.

But Ezz Steel fell 1.4 percent to 8.28 Egyptian pounds. Blom Egypt Securities downgraded it to a “sell” rating with a target of 7.45 pounds, citing its continued losses and saying it had weak prospects.

GULF

The Saudi stock index edged up 0.2 percent. The cement sector index climbed 1.5 percent and Saudi Basic Industries, which has a major steel producing affiliate, rose 0.3 percent.

Saudi Arabia is considering lifting partial export bans on cement and steel to relieve oversupply in the local market, economic news website al-Eqtisadiah quoted a customs department official as saying. That could help to ease producers’ problems as the local construction industry struggles because of state spending cuts due to low oil prices.

Most of the stock market moved little, however. Data released late on Thursday showed growth in Saudi Arabian money supply and bank lending in October slowing to its lowest levels since late 2010.

In Abu Dhabi, Dana Gas soared its 15 percent daily limit after saying a tribunal of the London Court of International Arbitration, ruling in a six-year dispute, had directed the Kurdish regional government in Iraq to pay $1.98 billion to a consortium including Dana within 28 days.

After the close, however, the Kurdish government said Dana’s description of the ruling was misleading and incomplete and that many issues remained unresolved. It said it still had counter-claims worth over $3 billion against Dana, and that the tribunal would hear them in the next phase of arbitration.

Abu Dhabi’s stock index dropped 1.1 percent as heavyweight National Bank of Abu Dhabi, the emirate’s biggest bank, tumbled 6.0 percent.

Sebastien Henin, head of asset management at Abu Dhabi’s The National Investor, said fresh corporate news did not appear to be behind the move, so the drop seemed to be the result of a large sell order going through in otherwise thin volumes.

United Arab Emirates markets will be closed for National Day Holidays on Wednesday and Thursday. “With a smaller number of market participants any sell order will be amplified, given there are no buyers on the other side,” Henin said.

Etisalat, which will join MSCI’s emerging markets index at the end of this month, dropped 2.6 percent after rising in the run-up to MSCI’s decision to include it.

Dubai’s index fell 0.3 percent as property and construction firms remained soft because of signs of an economic slowdown in the region; Emaar Properties lost 1.0 percent.

However, Al Salam Bank – Bahrain rose 1.0 percent to 0.934 dirham in unusually heavy trade after a regulatory filing revealed a key person in the bank, which is also listed in Bahrain, had bought 100,000 shares at 0.097 dinar per share last week.

Qatar’s index edged up 0.3 percent though Qatar Gas Transport (Nakilat), also due to be included in MSCI’s emerging markets index at the end of this month, dropped 0.5 percent. It was the most heavily traded stock.

SUNDAY’S HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index edged up 0.2 percent to 7,252 points.

DUBAI

* The index fell 0.3 percent to 3,193 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index dropped 1.1 percent to 4,173 points.

QATAR

* The index edged up 0.3 percent to 10,553 points.

EGYPT

* The index gained 0.8 percent to 6,478 points.

KUWAIT

* The index edged up 0.2 percent to 5,806 points.

OMAN

* The index fell 0.4 percent to 5,643 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index dropped 0.3 percent to 1,229 points. (Editing by Ros Russell)

http://news.yahoo.com/mideast-stocks-egypt-rises-c-bank-chief-arrives-135318785--sector.html

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