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Thursday, 9 December 2010

MIDEAST STOCKS-Kuwait index near 10-wk low after unrest | Reuters

Kuwait stocks .KWSE fell on Thursday, nearing a 10-week low as overnight unrest in the country spurred some investors to sell.

Several people were hurt when Kuwaiti police intervened to disperse an opposition gathering on Wednesday, prompting a call to question the Gulf Arab state's prime minister in parliament, regional media reported. [ID:nLDE6B721T]

Eleven of Kuwait's 15 largest stocks fell, with three flat and only Burgan Bank (BURG.KW) rising as it climbed 1.9 percent.

DME Needs Saudi Acceptance to Spur Use of Oman Crude Benchmark - Bloomberg

The Dubai Mercantile Exchange needs Saudi Arabia’s acceptance of its Oman futures contracts as a benchmark for exports to Asia to encourage other Middle East producers to use the marker, the head of the bourse said today.

The DME, the United Arab Emirates-based oil trading market, is “in dialogue” with the state-owned producers in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, to use its Oman crude futures contract, DME Chief Executive Officer Thomas Leaver said today in Singapore. The exchange has been holding meetings with the companies, informing them of the volumes traded and answering questions about corporate governance, he said.

“It would be very difficult not to have the Saudis because as the largest producer in the Gulf, they set the mark,” Leaver said in a briefing to reporters. “We’ve got reasonably broad support. But it’s just that final decision to move,” which is still to be made, he said.

Emirates NBD to Add Up to 300 Consumer-Banking Staff in 2011 - Bloomberg

Emirates NBD PJSC, the United Arab Emirates’ biggest bank, expects to hire 200 to 300 people at the consumer-banking division next year as it expands the business, the deputy chief executive officer said.

“We are adding more sales people, we have expanded private banking and I have expanded the team and am going to expand that further,” Jamal Bin Ghalaita, who also heads the consumer- banking division, told reporters at a news conference in Dubai today. “I am expanding my priority banking and we are adding more people.” The retail-banking unit employs almost 4,000 people now, Bin Ghalaita said.

Banks in Dubai, the Gulf Arab financial-services hub, have shed thousands of jobs as the economy slowed after the global credit crisis. Mashreqbank PSC, the U.A.E. lender controlled by the Al Ghurair family, said on Nov. 24 it cut 50 jobs as part of a reorganization of its small and medium-sized loans business.

U.A.E., Qatar May Allow Short-Selling for MSCI Upgrade, Revival of Volumes - Bloomberg

The United Arab Emirates and Qatar may become the first Persian Gulf countries to allow short- selling as regulators seek to revive trading volumes and secure MSCI Inc.’s Emerging Markets status.

The implementation of short-selling is “in line with the efforts to upgrade the U.A.E. markets,” the country’s regulator said in an e-mailed response to questions. Qatar’s exchange has also signaled it will introduce short-selling and derivatives trading, in addition to raising the percentage of shares foreigners can own in a company to 49 percent from 25 percent.

“As these markets join the MSCI EM, more attention will be focused on them,” volumes will probably rise and the market will likely become more efficient, said Philippe Langham, who runs the $660 million Royal Bank of Canada Emerging Markets Fund in London. Langham doesn’t hold investments in the U.A.E. or Qatar and would consider buying stocks after an upgrade. “We would spend more time looking for attractive opportunities in any markets that look set for promotion.”

Qatar may raise Hochtief stake beyond 9.1 pct-paper | Reuters

Qatar may raise its stake in Hochtief (HOTG.DE) beyond 9.1 percent, German daily Financial Times Deutschland said without quoting sources. The emirate may buy additional shares over the stock market to ensure that construction projects currently underway in Qatar are not disrupted, the paper said.

Earlier this week Qatar said it will buy a 9.1 percent stake in Hochtief for 400 million euros, adding muscle to the No.1 German builder's fight against a hostile takeover approach from Spanish rival ACS (ACS.MC).

gulfnews : Abu Dhabi issues decree on real estate ownership

General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on Wednesday issued Resolution No. 64 of 2010 which aims to encourage real estate developers and investors in the emirate to register their real estate ownership and makes the process of transferring property ownership easier and faster, the official news agency WAM reported.

The resolution also aims to facilitate the process of acquiring loans to finance real estate investments. It specifies the framework and general rules related to property rights registration procedures.

gulfnews : Dubai economy poised to grow 4.6% next year

The Dubai economy is forecast to grow at 4.6 per cent next year and 6 per cent in 2012, according to research by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI).

This growth will come at a price, however, as the UAE inflation rate is expected to reach 2.5 per cent in 2011 and 3.5 per cent in 2015, according to Dr. Eisa Abdul Galil, Senior Manager of Economic Research at DCCI.

Estimates of Dubai's real GDP growth rate in 2010 range from 0.8 to 2.3 per cent.

Abu Dhabi Commercial and Kuwait Finance: Gulf Equity Preview - Bloomberg

The following stocks may rise or fall in Gulf Arab markets. Stock symbols are in parentheses and prices are from the last close.

The QE Index advanced 1.8 percent to 8,779.49, the highest since September 2008. The Dubai Financial Market General Index decreased 0.9 percent. Saudi Arabia’s market is closed for the weekend.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC (ADCB UH): The third-largest bank in the United Arab Emirates by assets was cut to “underweight” from “overweight” and assigned a share-price estimate of 2.02 dirhams at Taib Bank. The shares fell 0.4 percent to 2.30 dirhams.

Kuwait Finance House (KFIN KK): The country’s largest Islamic bank made an early payment of $250 million on borrowings. The shares were unchanged at 1,160 fils. - Bahrain launches Islamic finance platform

Ibrahim Thompson, Islamic finance adviser for London-based Radcliffe & Newlands, described the e-Tayseer platform as "a milestone for Islamic trading in the region".

Mr Thompson said platform, launched by Bahrain Financial Exchange, will facilitate transactions in Islamic credit, Murabaha.

He added that the service was ideal for UK investors with assets in the Gulf region. / Middle East - Islamic finance searches its soul

mosque & minarets
Glow of reflection: industry figures are worried the sector has lost its way

On the face of it, the Islamic finance industry has enjoyed a decent crisis. While some financial institutions that adhere to Islamic law, or sharia, have teetered, the industry as a whole has continued to expand in terms of assets under management.

Yet in spite of the apparently rosy outlook, the industry is now engaged in a heated internal debate on the future of Islamic finance.

At stake is the shape and nature of a $1,000bn industry that has seen tremendous growth and innovation during the past decade, with products ranging from Islamic hedge funds to complicated bond structures
. / Emerging Markets - Qatar and UAE upgrade talk abounds

Investors enthusiastically pumping capital into emerging markets have largely avoided Gulf bourses, mainly because of the “frontier markets” status accorded them by MSCI Barra, the influential index provider. But some experts say this could be about to change.

Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have been under review for an upgrade to MSCI’s Emerging Markets index for several years, but have thus far been denied. A number of reasons are cited, such as foreign-ownership limits and a delay between payment for a stock and receipt of the underlying share.

MSCI Barra’s decision is not due until June, but speculation is mounting that the two markets will be upgraded, according to analysts and fund managers.