MIDEAST DAYBOOK: Libyan Rebels Advance, Saudi Shares Surge

Libyan rebels moved into the central city of Ajdabiya, recaptured Brega in the east and advanced toward the strategic oil port of Ras Lanuf, after U.S. and allied warplanes bombarded Muammar Qaddafi’s tanks, artillery and soldiers along the coastline and near Tripoli.

Saudi stocks rose to the highest level in five weeks as investors restore confidence in the Arab world’s largest economy after King Abdullah ordered the creation of a housing ministry.

Egypt’s Finance Minister Samir Radwan said the stock market will stabilize this week as the government makes $250 million available to buy shares, after the index dropped to the lowest level in almost two years following a seven-week halt.

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s security forces clashed with protesters in several cities after his promises of freedoms and pay increases failed to prevent dissent from spreading across the country.

WHAT TO WATCH: * Egypt seeks to raise 5 billion pounds ($840 million) in

treasury bills at an auction in Cairo. * Egypt Central Bank didn’t intervene to support the Egyptian

pound on March 24 after it hit its lowest level in more than

six years. * Oman Central Bank Governor Hamud Al-Zadjali expects the

sultanate’s economy to grow 6 percent this year. * Saudi Arabia’s Central Bank Governor Muhammad Al-Jasser says

the kingdom’s Gross Domestic Product will be “north of four

percent” in 2011 and bond markets in the Gulf Arab States

are “not well taken care of.” * Iraq may seek bids for exploration rights to the East Baghdad

oil field in 2012 and plans a separate, stand-alone auction

of a license to the Risha gas deposit straddling the

country’s border with Jordan. * Egypt’s former tourism minister, Zoheir Garranah, and two

businessmen will be tried on April 9 on charges of

profiteering and enabling the theft of public funds. * Saudi Arabia’s Shura consultative council may pass the draft

mortgage law April 3, council member Majdi Hariri told Al

Madina Newspaper. * OPEC won’t increase oil production, the BBC reported, citing

Iranian Oil Minister Mas’ud Mirkazemi. Iran sees no need for

an emergency meeting of the Organization of Petroleum

Exporting Countries, the BBC reported Mirkazemi, who

Currently holds the rotating presidency of OPEC, as telling

the Mehr News Agency.

CONFERENCES: * Water and Energy Conference in Abu Dhabi.

MARKETS: * Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDU) rose 0.41 percent to 12,220.59. * Crude oil futures for May delivery fell 0.19 percent to $105.40 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on March 25. * Gold for April delivery fell 0.06 percent to $1,429.74 an ounce. * Saudi Tadawul All Share Index (SASEIDX) surged 2.26 percent. * Dubai Financial Market General Index rose 1.5 percent. Bahrain All Share Index (BHSEASI) climbed 0.3 percent, Muscat Securities Market (MSM30) rose 0.01 percent, while Kuwait Stock Exchange Index (KWSEIDX) lost 0.2 percent, QE Index (DSM) rose 0.2 percent and ADX General Index (ADSMI) rose 0.2 percent. * EGX30 Index fell 3.7 percent, Casablanca Stock Exchange Index fell 1.26 percent, while Tunis Stock Exchange’s Tunidex (TUSISE) rose 0.04 percent.

EQUITY MOVERS: * First Gulf Bank (FGB UH (FGB)), a lender controlled by Abu Dhabi’s ruling family, says Chairman Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al-Nahyan resigns after assuming a state position. * Arabtec Holding PJSE (ARTC UH (ARTC)), the biggest publicly traded construction company in the U.A.E., appoints Grigoris Chistofides as CEO of Arabtec Construction, replacing Thomas Barry. * El Kahera Housing & Developments, an Egyptian real-estate developer, plans to buy back 4.7 million shares by April 26. * Algeria rules out the involvement of VimpelCom Ltd. in the country’s talks to buy Orascom Telecom Holding SAE’s (ORTE EY) Djezzy unit.

FINANCIAL RESULTS AND MEETINGS: * Kingdom Holding (KINGDOM AB (KINGDOM)), controlled by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, holds a shareholders’ meeting. * Qatar Telecom (QTEL QD), the country’s largest company by revenue, holds a shareholders’ meeting. * Waha Capital (WAHA UH (WAHA)), a leasing company based in Abu Dhabi, holds a shareholders’ meeting.

To contact the reporters on this story: Fiona MacDonald in Kuwait at fmacdonald4@bloomberg.net

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

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