DUBAI- Qatar's stock market continued rising on Tuesday after two top companies said they were raising their ceilings for foreign ownership, while strength in Egypt's biggest bank lifted that market. Most of the rest of the region was subdued.
The Qatari stock index, which had soared 5 percent on Monday, added a further 1.6 percent. Qatar National Bank , which had risen its 10 percent daily limit on Monday, climbed 6.9 percent.
Industries Qatar gained 4.6 percent on Tuesday after leaping 10 percent on Monday. On Tuesday, the company said it had increased its foreign ownership limit to 49 percent from 25 percent.
Fund managers took the decisions by the two government-linked companies as a sign that authorities are determined to bring more foreign money into the market.
However, there may be little further room for the market to rise on relaxation of ownership ceilings; the only other big firms that still have not lifted their ceilings above 25 percent are Qatar Islamic Bank , up 0.7 percent on Tuesday, and Qatar Electricty & Water, up 2.7 percent.
Egypt's index gained 1.5 percent, with Commercial International Bank COMI.CA surging 2.2 percent as some investors bought to catch its annual dividend; it will go ex-dividend on March 20.
El Sewedy Electric , which had gained 5.9 percent on Monday after saying it had signed a contract with Egyptian Electricity Transmission Co to provide power transmission lines worth 2.12 billion Egyptian pounds ($121 million), last traded 10 percent higher.
In Saudi Arabia, the index rose in early trade but closed 0.04 percent lower on profit-taking after several days of strong gains.
Sahara Petrochemical climbed 1.1 percent and Sipchem 2310.SE surged 2.6 percent after Sipchem said it planned to resume merger talks with Sahara. The two companies called off a planned merger in 2014, citing an inadequate regulatory framework in the country.
Dubai's index was almost flat as Emirates NBD closed unchanged. Dubai's biggest bank had soared 19 percent in the past two days after saying it planned a big capital increase, which analysts think will mean raising its 5 percent ceiling for foreign ownership.
Dubai Investments DINV.DU added 1.9 percent after its board proposed a 12 percent cash dividend for 2017, compared to a 10 percent cash dividend and a 5 percent bonus share issue for 2016.
SAUDI ARABIA * The index edged down 0.04 percent to 7,778 points.
DUBAI * The index was flat at 3,166 points.
ABU DHABI * The index edged up 0.1 percent to 4,538 points.
QATAR * The index climbed 1.6 percent to 8,802 points.
EGYPT * The index gained 1.5 percent to 16,989 points.
KUWAIT * The index edged up 0.04 percent to 6,728 points.
BAHRAIN * The index added 0.6 percent to 1,361 points.
OMAN * The index rose 0.5 percent to 4,900 points.
(Editing by Adrian Croft) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +9715 6681 7277; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))