Kuwait banks slide as investors wait on Zain

DUBAI: Kuwaiti banks slid on Thursday as the country’s index fell for a third day in four, with investors cautious ahead of a $12 billion stake sale in telecoms operator Zain to Abu Dhabi’s Etisalat.Other Middle East markets were lackluster. Zain ended flat at 1.440 dinars, but National Bank of Kuwait fell 1.5 percent and Kuwait Finance House dropped 1.7 percent.“In the absence of catalysts, Kuwait should remain sideways — if Zain’s deal will go through, the feel-good factor should push up the market, but the deal is already pretty much priced into Zain’s shares,” said Shahid Hameed, Global Investment House head of asset management for the Gulf region.

“People are expecting it to be a matter of weeks, not months for the Zain sale to be completed, although investors understand that a multibillion dollar deal takes time. If there’s a delay, the market will become jittery and there will be speculation and volatility until the deal is finalized.”Etisalat, which climbed 0.5 percent, has agreed to pay 1.700 dinars a share for a controlling stake in Zain.Egypt’s benchmark index ended slightly lower as investors spurned buying large-cap stocks, unnerved by clashes in Cairo ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary elections, traders said.Orascom Construction eased 0.1 percent and Commercial International Bank fell 0.5 percent.Teymour El-Derini of Naeem Brokerage said retail investors were selling shares to plough the money back into Egyptian real estate firm Amer Group’s $988 million initial public offering, which closed on Thursday.

Dubai’s index snapped a two-day drop, but volumes slumped to a 12-week low. Emirates NBD climbed 1.6 percent, its biggest rise since Oct. 28. Emaar Properties rose 0.8 percent, but Aramex and Arabtec fell 1 and 0.5 percent respectively.“There’s no local catalyst — today’s gains are just a follow through from what happened on US markets and there’s no major conviction, so we easily can turn downwards again,” said Haissam Arabi, chief executive and fund manager at Gulfmena Alternative Investments. “It’s just the usual suspects in our markets, with no fresh money coming in.”Qatar Gas Transport Co (Nakilat) rose 2.5 percent to a 27-week high as investors rotated cash into the services sector following recent bank gains.Doha’s index climbed 0.4 percent, taking its gains to 5 percent in the past month.“Qatar has done exceptionally well and the market might be getting ahead of itself, with people buying ahead of the World Cup vote — if Qatar doesn’t win then it will cause some negative sentiment and retailers are likely to sell off stocks,” added Global’s Hameed.“Qatar’s recent rally is not just about the World Cup, but the overall economy and if there’s a correction it won’t change what is a good story going forward.”Qatar is bidding against the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea for the rights to host the 2022 World Cup, with FIFA delegates voting on Dec. 2 – Arabnews