Doha bourse index climbs 1.6 percent


The Saudi and Qatar indexes both added more than 1.5 percent each after falling for two sessions, while Kuwaiti banks advanced after the government pushed through a state support package that should help lenders cope with the financial crisis.

Prospects for weak first-quarter corporate earnings pulled UAE shares lower on the last day of the reporting period. Abu Dhabi suffered its largest daily loss in a month as bank shares tumbled and Dubai’s index fell for a second day.

A regional slowdown has hit Dubai particularly hard, leading to hundreds of billions of dollars in project cancellations and thousands of job cuts. EFG-Hermes said this week the emirate’s population could fall 17 percent this year.

The Dubai stock market, which tumbled more than 70 percent last year, had been rising recently with property firms among the major gainers, although analysts said the overall trend remained negative. “The government can manage the supply side by telling developers not to bring out more units, but it can’t do much to boost demand when employers are cutting staff and expatriates are leaving,” said Manibhandu.

Trading volumes across Gulf markets have been waning as buying demand sags ahead of first-quarter results and companies pass their dividend dates. Average volumes in the region fell to 1,054 million shares this week compared with 1,265 million last week. Volumes in Kuwait dropped 38 percent, Oman 58 percent and Abu Dhabi 30 percent.

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