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| 22 November, 2017

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most of Gulf firm though Emaar Development slides on listing

Most major Gulf stock markets edged up in early trade on Wednesday, including Dubai

DUBAI  - Most major Gulf stock markets edged up in early trade on Wednesday, including Dubai, although Emaar Development dropped as it began trading after Dubai's first big initial public offer of shares since 2014.

Emaar Development, the local property development unit of Emaar Properties, was at 5.85 dirhams after 80 minutes, down from its IPO price of 6.03 dirhams; 209 million shares traded, compared to 800 million sold in the IPO. The stock opened at 5.61 dirhams.

The weak debut underlined two factors weighing heavily on Dubai. Its real estate market has been slumping for over two years as low oil prices cause governments around the region to cut spending and impose new taxes, slowing economic growth.

Meanwhile, rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran over instability in Lebanon and the conflict in Yemen have increasingly worried investors.

However, Dubai's index  rose 0.4 percent in early trade as Emaar Properties, which had been falling in the days ahead of its unit's listing, rebounded 1.3 percent.

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GFH Financial, the most heavily traded stock, surged 3.0 percent after saying it had started talks with Saudi Arabian authorities to cross-list its shares on the Riyadh stock exchange.

Several other Gulf bourses were strong, recovering a little from several days of weakness; they were aided by rising global equity markets and oil prices.

Saudi Arabia's index .TASI edged up 0.4 percent as petrochemical blue chip Saudi Basic Industries gained 0.5 percent. Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones by 121 to 20.

Qatar's index  added 0.5 percent as drilling rig provider Gulf International Services, the most heavily traded stock, surged 4.2 percent. It has been trading near eight-year lows.

The Qatari market shrugged off news that international equity index compiler MSCI may shift to using offshore foreign exchange rates to value Qatar's market because sanctions against Doha have made it more difficult for foreign investors to obtain riyal onshore. 

Offshore riyal rates are weaker than onshore rates and if it goes ahead, the shift could lead to changes in the weighting of Qatari stocks in MSCI's emerging market index.

Abu Dhabi's index  fell 0.8 percent as telecommunications blue chip Etisalat  retreated 1.2 percent.

(Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Toby Chopra) ((andrew.torchia@thomsonreuters.com)(+9715 6681 7277)(Reuters Messaging: andrew.torchia.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))