MIDEAST DAYBOOK: Libya Unrest, Credit Rating; Egypt Stock Market

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi vowed to fight a growing rebellion until his “last drop of blood,” as parts of the capital of Tripoli resembled a war zone and some of his followers and troops defected to the opposition.

Libya’s sovereign credit rating was cut by one level at Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, which noted that it may be reduced further as violence escalated.

Libya’s escalating violence represents the biggest threat to global oil supply since the invasion of Iraq eight years ago as the unrest in the Middle East centers on an OPEC exporter.

Egypt’s stock exchange extended its trading suspension through this week as it moves to implement changes aimed at limiting possible losses upon resumption.

Islamic banks in Yemen said they will buy the local currency sukuk the government plans to sell in March because rates as high as 21 percent outweigh the risks amid escalating unrest in the Middle East’s poorest country.

WHAT TO WATCH: * Saudi Arabian Oil Co. has established a unit that will begin trading oil products by the end of 2011. * Egypt’s new Cabinet was sworn in and for the first time in decades included members of opposition parties as dissent continued over the makeup of the government. * Kuwait’s M1 money supply growth, an indicator of future inflation, slowed to 11.3 percent in January from 16.3 percent the previous month. * Citigroup Inc.’s Global Subsidiaries Group, which serves multinational in more than 170 markets, set up a dedicated Japan Desk covering the Middle East based in Dubai. The desk will be led Osamu Okada, it said.

CONFERENCES: * International Defence Exhibition in Abu Dhabi.

MARKETS: * Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDU) dropped 1.4 percent. * Crude oil futures for April delivery rose 0.3 percent to $95.72 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 8:05 a.m. Dubai time. * Gold for April delivery fell 0.1 percent to $1,400.3 an ounce. * QE Index (DSM) slumped 3.6 percent, Dubai Financial Market General Index dropped 2.4 percent, ADX General Index (ADSMI) declined 1.6 percent, Muscat Securities Market (MSM30) fell 1.5 percent, Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index dropped 0.4 percent and Kuwait Stock Exchange Index (KWSEIDX) fell 0.1 percent. Bahrain All Share Index (BHSEASI) rose 0.2 percent.

EQUITY MOVERS: * Arab National Bank (ARNB AB (ARNB)), Saudi Arabia’s sixth-largest publicly traded lender, reported an 18 percent increase in provisions for bad loans in the fourth quarter. * Al Abdullatif Industrial Investment Co., (ALABDUL AB (ALABDUL)) a Saudi carpet manufacturer, plans to invest 54.8 million riyals expanding five units.

FINANCIAL RESULTS: * Barwa Real Estate Co. (BRES QD) said full-year profit rose to 1.4 billion riyals from 766 million riyals a year earlier. * National Mobile Telecommunications Co. (NMTC KK), the Kuwaiti phone company controlled by Qatar Telecom, said fourth-quarter profit rose to 24.3 million dinars from 11 million dinars in the year-earlier period. * Jazeera Airways KSC (JAZEERA KK), a Kuwaiti low- cost airline, reported a profit of 2 million dinars after a loss 6.7 million dinars a year earlier. * United Gulf Bank (UGB BI) posted a fourth-quarter loss of $2.8 million after a profit of $1.9 million. * Commercial Bank of Kuwait (CBK KK) posted a 2010 profit of 40.5 million dinars after 146,000 dinars in 2009.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net

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