MIDEAST DAYBOOK: Libya Crisis, Egypt T-Bills, U.A.E. Bank Rules

Muammar Qaddafi’s warplanes bombed rebels as his ground forces fought unsuccessfully for a main Libyan oil port and opposition leaders appealed for foreign nations to launch airstrikes against regime mercenaries. {EXTRA <GO>} for more on Middle East turmoil.

Egypt’s Ministry of Finance plans to raise 6.5 billion pounds ($1.1 billion) in treasury bills at an auction today. The ministry seeks to sell 3 billion pounds in six-month notes and 3.5 billion pounds in 364-day securities.

The United Arab Emirates’ new regulations on retail lending may hurt fee income at banks such as Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC (ADCB) and push them to reduce their reliance on consumer loans, Nomura International Plc said.

Former Bear Stearns Cos. Executive Frederic Marino started an $800 million hedge fund with the backing of Qaddafi’s government. Now his plan to attract new investors is being threatened by fighting in the streets of the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

WHAT TO WATCH: * Credit-default swaps on Saudi Arabia are the worst performing sovereign contracts this year, even though the kingdom has no debt to insure, as investors hedge the risk of political turmoil in the world’s biggest oil supplier. * Fitch Ratings has downgraded Tunisia’s long-term foreign currency issuer default rating to ‘BBB-’ from ’BBB’ and long- term local currency IDR to ’BBB’ from ’A-’ and removed the ratings from Rating Watch Negative. The outlooks on the IDRs are negative. * Saudi Arabia offered two European refiners additional cargoes of Arab Light crude for loading in March to make up for the loss of Libyan oil, two officials involved in the talks said. * Saudi Arabia and Qatar expressed support for Bahrain’s economy and security, the official Bahrain News Agency reported, citing a joint statement after a meeting of Saudi and Qatari officials in Riyadh.

CONFERENCES: * Global Financial Markets Forum organized by National Bank of Abu Dhabi in Abu Dhabi. * Iraqi Oil Ministry officials will hold a press conference in Baghdad to discuss energy projects in the country.

MARKETS: * Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1 percent. * Crude oil futures for April delivery rose 0.4 percent to $102.59 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 8 a.m. in Dubai. * Gold for April delivery fell 0.2 percent to $1,434.6 an ounce. * QE Index (DSM) plunged 3.6 percent, Dubai Financial Market General Index dropped 3.5 percent, Kuwait Stock Exchange Index fell 2.6 percent, ADX General Index (ADSMI) declined 1.8 percent, Muscat Securities Market lost 1.4 percent and Bahrain All Share Index declined 1 percent. Morocco Casablanca Stock Exchange Index fell 0.2 percent. * Tunisia’s stock exchange regulator suspends trading until further notice. * Saudi Arabia’s market is closed today for the weekend.

EQUITY MOVERS: * Emirates Telecommunications Corp. (ETISALAT UH), the biggest phone company in the United Arab Emirates, is still interested in buying a stake in Kuwait’s phone company Zain (ZAIN KK). * Qatar International Islamic Bank (QIIK), the country’s third-largest Islamic bank by assets, said it may be willing to buy Shariah- compliant units from conventional lenders, which were told by the central bank to stop offering such services. * Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. (TAQA) , the state-run utility known as Taqa, may sell bonds next year to refinance $1.5 billion in debt maturing in October 2012, Reuters reported citing Chief Financial Officer Doug Fraser. * EFG-Hermes Holding SAE (HRHO EY), the biggest publicly traded investment bank in Egypt, will not sell stocks bought on margin by small investors in the North African country without their permission, it said in an advertisement in Al Masry Al Youm newspaper. * National Societe Generale Bank SAE (NSGB) was lowered to “underweight” from “hold” at CI Capital Holdings with a price estimate of 43.29 Egyptian pounds. * Maridive & Oil Services SAE (MOIL) , an Egyptian marine and oil support services company, said it earns 97 percent of its revenues in U.S. dollars and 90 percent of its operations are located outside Egypt.

FINANCIAL RESULTS AND MEETINGS: * Du (DU UH) to announce results, hold press conference. * Deyaar Development (DEYAAR) PJSC board meets on results.

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

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