0941 GMT - Egypt's bourse eases away from a four-month low
as bargain hunters return on renewed hopes of a much-needed $4.8
billion loan deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The country's planning minister said on Thursday the
government expects to reach a final agreement on the loan within
two weeks, the state news agency MENA reported.
Talks had stalled in recent months over economic reforms
required to seal the deal. Political uncertainty and violent
social unrest also delayed negotiations.
Cairo must convince the global lender it is serious about
reforms aimed at boosting growth and curbing an unaffordable
Large-caps Commercial International Bank and
Orascom Construction Industries rise 2.7 percent and
Non-Egyptian Arabs are net buyers, while Egyptians are net
sellers on the bourse. The main benchmark climbs 0.8
percent to 4,968 points.
Elsewhere, Oman's bourse rises in heavy foreign investor
buying ahead of first-quarter earnings. The index ends
0.9 percent higher at 6,111 points, up for a third session.
"Speculation on Q1 is driving the market - a huge
participation from foreign investors is boosting confidence in
the market," says Adel Nasr, United Securities' brokerage
manager. "The rally will continue for a while on expectations of
strong results from the investment and banking sectors."
Oman International Development and Investment
jumps 6.4 percent on renewed hopes its subsidiary, Oman Arab
Bank, will be publicly listed, traders say.
Bank Muscat climbs 1 percent and Ahli Bank
gains 0.6 percent.
In Kuwait, the benchmark ticks up 0.04 percent to
finish at 6,817 points.
0745 GMT - Mid-caps stocks lift Dubai's measure to a
one-week high as buyers return following a sustained sell-off
last month, while other Gulf markets are mixed.
Dubai Islamic Bank and budget carrier Air Arabia
are Dubai's main supports, rising 4.3 and 3.4 percent
Dubai's measure fell 6.2 percent from Feb. 24's 39-month
peak to reach a two-month low on Monday, but bargain hunters
have since helped the market rebound.
The index rises 1.2 percent to 1,877 points, its highest
since March 26.
"The drop in prices created an opportunity that encouraged
the market bulls, especially foreign investors," says Firass
Yaish, business development manager at One Financial Markets.
"The bulk of their liquidity is extremely selective towards
heavyweight stocks, particularly Emaar. Looks like Emaar is the
wining horse of 2013."
Emaar Properties climbs 0.6 percent to be up 43
percent in 2013. The stock is a favoured pick among investors as
Dubai's real troubled estate sector shows signs of a tentative
Abu Dhabi's measure rises 0.4 percent to 3,033 points
and Oman's bourse advances 0.6 percent to 6,092 points.
Elsewhere, Qatar's benchmark eases 0.2 percent to
8,555 points and Kuwait's index declines 0.1 percent to
0559 GMT - Cairo's benchmark is expected to remain
volatile on Thursday as institutional investors stay away and
traders sell stocks on fears Egypt's currency could weaken
After two years of political upheaval, foreign currency
reserves in Egypt have fallen to critically low levels, limiting
Egypt's ability to buy wheat, of which it is the world's biggest
importer, and fuel.
The main share benchmark fell 2.2 percent on Wednesday to
its lowest level since Dec. 6.
"Egypt is trading at a discount due to the political and
economic risks it has been facing - obviously the volatility
will be high," says Marwan Shurrab, vice-president and chief
trader at Gulfmena Investments.
"The market is unpredictable due to the fact that most
trading is happening on the retail level and there's an obvious
lack of institutional investors in the market."
Global concerns will also weigh on the Gulf bourses.
International investors are nervously watching developments
in the Korean Peninsula, while Asian stocks are down after weak
data stoked concerns the key American jobs report due later in
the week will signal slowing U.S. growth.
Kuwait's banks will be in focus after parliament approved a
law on Wednesday to buy some citizens' personal loans and write
off the interest after lawmakers argued that banks had
overcharged Kuwaitis for credit.
Under the law, banks would have to pay back any overcharged
interest to citizens. This would apply to interest charged at
more than 4 percent over the discount rate and it was not
immediately clear how much this would cost.
(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Matt Smith)