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Qatar hits record high before MSCI move

Dubai, May 25, 2014

Qatar's main share index surged to a record close on Sunday as investors targeted stocks that will be included in MSCI's emerging market index, while Egypt hit a 69-month peak before this week's presidential vote.

MSCI will upgrade Qatar, along with the United Arab Emirates, from frontier market status at the end of this week, adding 10 Doha-listed stocks to its emerging market benchmark.

Masraf Al Rayan will be Qatar's lead stock in the index, accounting for about a quarter of the country's weighting; the Islamic lender's shares jumped 10 percent on Sunday to its daily limit-high.

Industries Qatar and Qatar Electricity and Water , which MSCI will also add to its emerging market index, climbed 3.8 and 3.5 percent respectively.

"The performance so far this year has been driven by retail and institutional investors, with some index trackers already coming in, and that will continue for the next one to two weeks," said Robert Pramberger, acting head of asset management at Doha-based investment company The First Investor.

UAE markets were closed for a national holiday on Sunday, making Qatar the focus of regional investors' attention, Pramberger added.

Doha's index rose 2.6 percent in active trade to an all-time high of 13,351 points, taking its 2014 gains to 28.6 percent; it closed at the day's highest level. The move was technically bullish because it broke resistance on the previous record intra-day high of 13,196 points, hit earlier in May.

"Q1 results were in line with expectations, but it's also about the outlook - Qatar has a lot of infrastructure spending," said Pramberger, citing state-led road, rail, hotel and property projects ahead of the country hosting the 2022 soccer World Cup.

"This is getting priced in - oil and gas money is flowing back into the country through infrastructure."

Qatar's stock market has provided much better returns than other asset classes, including bank deposits, real estate and fixed income, Pramberger noted, which has further reinforced positive investor sentiment towards local equities.

Yet stocks often underperform after an MSCI upgrade actually takes effect, according to Credit Suisse, which examined how other countries reclassified by the index compiler fared.

"The scale and rate of underperformance was near identical across all the markets, which gives me conviction that the pattern of 'buy the rumour, sell the news' is pretty powerful," said Fahd Iqbal, head of Middle East research at Credit Suisse.

"There's more downside risk left in the UAE and Qatar."

EGYPT

Mid-cap stocks helped Cairo's main share index climb 0.4 percent to its highest close since August 2008.

Arabian Cement, which completed Egypt's first major initial public offer since the 2011 revolution, rose 4.6 percent to stand up 22 percent since its May 18 debut.

Meanwhile Saudi Arabia's index rose 0.2 percent to 9,772 points, coming within 0.5 percent of May 14's six-year closing high of 9,820.

SUNDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS
QATAR: The index rose 2.6 percent to 13,351 points.
KUWAIT: The index fell 0.5 percent to 7,310 points.
SAUDI ARABIA: The index climbed 0.2 percent to 9,772 points.
EGYPT: The index rose 0.4 percent to 8,763 points.
BAHRAIN: The index climbed 0.4 percent to 1,466 points.
OMAN: The index fell 0.3 percent to 6,725 points. -Reuters




Tags: Qatar | UAE | stocks | MSCI |

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