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MIDEAST DAYBOOK: Egypt Risk, Bourse Opening; Yemen, Libya Unrest

Egypt’s default risk is dropping the most since July after voters approved a constitutional referendum and the government agreed to resume equity trading for the first time in seven weeks. Egypt’s stock exchange, which has been closed for more than seven weeks, will open tomorrow.

Global markets are signaling that sustained economic growth will more than make up for Japan’s worst disaster since World War II, rising commodity prices and uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

Allied forces are expanding their air campaign over Libya in an effort to thwart Muammar Qaddafi’s fighters and enable rebels to control cities, such as Benghazi, that had been under attack by troops loyal to the regime.

Thousands of Yemenis spent the night on streets across the country to maintain pressure on President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is facing a growing internal revolt by army leaders, ministers and diplomats.

WHAT TO WATCH: * The Central Bank of Egypt starts regular repurchasing agreements as part of its monetary policy operational framework on every Tuesday from today. * Crude oil could rise $10 a barrel if there’s a disruption of supply from the Persian Gulf, Fadel Gheit, an oil analyst at Oppenheimer & Co., told Bloomberg Television. * Oil options volatility fell as the underlying futures prices gained on concern that allied airstrikes on Libya and political violence in Yemen and Syria will cause supply shortages. * The United Arab Emirates’ three stock exchanges should merge to help boost trading volumes and improve visibility for foreign investors, a majority of investment professionals holding the CFA charter said. * Moody’s Investors Service said it has placed Orascom Telecom’s B2 corporate family rating on review for possible upgrade. The rating was previously on review with direction uncertain. * Tyco International Ltd., a maker of valves used in refineries, agreed to buy a majority stake in the United Arab Emirates- based KEF Holdings Ltd. for $300 million to gain manufacturing in the Middle East. Separately, Dubai International Capital LLC said it signed an agreement to sell a 45 percent stake in KEF Holdings to Tyco for $178 million. * Libyan rebels in Benghazi said they have created a new national oil company to replace the corporation controlled by leader Muammar Qaddafi and whose assets were frozen by the United Nations Security Council. * Billionaire collectors splashed out in Dubai as galleries reported stronger sales and a growing interest in Middle Eastern art. * Samsung Engineering Co., South Korea’s largest engineering company, said it received an order worth $2.76 billion from Saudi Arabian Oil Co. to build a natural gas liquid plant in Shaybah. * The U.A.E.’s role in the events in Libya is limited to providing humanitarian aid.

MARKETS: * Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.5 percent. * Crude oil futures for April delivery gained 0.1 percent to $102.4 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 8:06 a.m. in Dubai. * Gold for April delivery rose 0.2 percent to $1,429.3 an ounce. * Kuwait Stock Exchange Index advanced 1 percent, Bahrain All Share Index gained 0.7 percent, ADX General Index (ADSMI) advanced 0.5 percent and Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index (SASEIDX) and Muscat Securities Market rose 0.2 percent each. * QE Index (DSM) fell 0.6 percent and Dubai Financial Market General Index lost 0.2 percent * The Casablanca Stock Exchange Index lost 0.2 percent.

EQUITY MOVERS: * Aldar Properties PJSC (ALDAR) had its B/B long- and short-term corporate credit ratings affirmed at Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services. The outlook is stable. * Kingdom Holding Co. (KINGDOM) , controlled by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, said its plans to buy a stake in Zain Saudi (ZAINKSA AB) “has not changed.” * Industries Qatar (IQCD QD), the Persian Gulf country’s petrochemical, fertilizer and steel manufacturer, said that unrest in the Middle East and North Africa has “limited impact” on its business. * Ahli United Bank (AUB BI) had its long- and short-term counterparty ratings lowered to BBB/A-3 from A-/A-2 at Standard & Poor’s. * Commercial Bank of Kuwait (CBK KK) signed a syndicated loan with Al-Ghanim International General Trading & Contracting Co. to finance the second phase of a $1.2 billion project to expand the country’s Al-Zour South power plant. * Aluminium Bahrain BSC (ALBH) , the smelter known as Alba, said shipping of finished products to customers returned to normal after difficulty last week caused by restrictions on freight facilities. * Citadel Capital (CCAP EY), an Egyptian private equity firm, will delay the initial public offering of its energy unit Taqa Arabia because of the instability in the country and the Middle East, said Amr El Kadi, head of investor relations. * Arabian Cement (ARCCO) Co was cut to “buy” from “strong buy” at Global Investment House KSCC and had its share-price estimate lowered 13 percent to 33.8 riyals. * Etihad Atheeb Telecommunications Co. (EAT AB) shareholders will vote to dissolve or continue the company in an extraordinary meeting on April 16. * Palm Hills Developments SAE (PHDC) , an Egyptian real-estate developer, is in talks with a government agency to delay payments for land it acquired because of declining sales, investor relations manager Bassem el-Shawy said. * El Sewedy Electric Co. (SWDY EY), the biggest publicly-traded cable maker in the Middle East, sees revenue this year to be unchanged, said Ahmed El Homosani, head of investor relations.

FINANCIAL RESULTS AND MEETINGS: * Tamweel PJSC (TAMWEEL) shareholders meeting. * Etisalat (ETISALAT UH) shareholders meeting. * Masraf Al Rayan (MARK) shareholders meeting. * National Bank of Oman (NBOB OM) shareholders meeting.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at

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