Qatar Shares Head for Highest Close in Week on U.S. Data, Oil

Qatar’s shares headed for the highest close in more than a week, led by Doha Bank QSC (DHBK), after improved U.S. economic data boosted investor appetite for riskier assets and as crude oil advanced for a third day.

Doha Bank, Qatar’s fifth-largest lender by market value, rose a second day and Industries Qatar QSC (IQCD), the Middle East’s second-biggest petrochemicals company, increased as much as 0.8 percent. Qatar’s QE Index (DSM) added 0.2 percent to 8,800.26 at 10:59 a.m. in Doha, headed for the highest close since Dec. 11. The measure has gained 1.4 percent this year. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index (BGCC200), down 10 percent in 2011, decreased 0.2 percent.

“The housing start figures from the U.S. came in surprisingly strong with the retail sales also positive,” boosting investor sentiment, said Nabil Farhat, a partner at Abu Dhabi-based Al Fajer Securities. “Qatar will have a positive 2012 because the monetary policy and the government fiscal policies are expansionary, and that is why the stock market is the best performing in the Gulf Cooperation Council.”

The Standard and Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) surged 3 percent yesterday, the biggest gain this month, after better-than- estimated housing starts added to expectations the world’s largest economy will weather Europe’s debt crisis. The STOXX Europe 600 Index increased 2 percent yesterday and the MSCI Emerging Markets Index (MXEF) rose 2.1 percent today. Concern about Europe’s debt crisis eased as German business confidence unexpectedly grew and Spain sold 5.64 billion euros ($7.36 billion) of bills, more than the maximum target.

Crude for February delivery rose as much as 1.3 percent to $98.44 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gulf Arab oil exporters, including Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, supply about a fifth of the world’s oil.

Qatar, which plans to spend $88 billion on infrastructure to host the 2022 soccer World Cup, forecasts its economy to expand about 16 percent this year. The International Monetary Fund expects the nation to have the world’s fastest-growing economy for a second year.

Doha Bank advanced 0.8 percent to 64.5 riyals and Industries Qatar increased to 134 riyals before trading at 133 riyals.

Oman’s MSM 30 Index (MSM30) gained 0.1 percent, while Kuwait’s gauge (DFMGI) declined 0.2 percent. Dubai’s DFM General Index fell 0.5 percent. Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index (ADSMI) decreased 0.7 percent, its eighth day of losses. Bahrain’s BB All Share Index (BHSEASI) was little changed.

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