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MIDEAST DAYBOOK: Bahrain, Libya Ratings; Oil Surges; Air Arabia

Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Bahrain and Libya’s sovereign credit ratings were cut as the two Arab countries struggle to contain anti-government protests.

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi said he hadn’t fled the country as diplomats resigned and soldiers deserted in protest over a crackdown on anti-government protesters that has left hundreds dead.

Abu Dhabi and Qatar led an increase in the cost of insuring government debt in North Africa and the Middle East on concern political upheaval may spread and disrupt oil supply. Oil climbed to the highest level in more than two years and bonds rose, while Asian shares and U.S. stock futures declined as violence intensified in Libya.

{EXTRA <GO>} for more on Middle East turmoil.

WHAT TO WATCH: * Egypt’s stock exchange hasn’t decided on when to resume trading and hasn’t found any legal grounds to cancel trades that took place on Jan. 27, Chairman Khaled Seyam said. * Morgan Stanley sold $20 million of credit-linked notes tied to Saudi Arabia as default swaps linked to the country surged in the past two weeks. * Egypt raised 5.5 billion pounds ($934 million) from the sale of treasury bills, with the yield on one-year notes rising to a more than two-year high as unrest escalated in the Middle East and North Africa. * Kuwait had a preliminary budget surplus of 7.8 billion dinars ($28 billion) in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year ending March 31, the Finance Ministry said. * Egypt’s public prosecutor asked the country’s foreign minister to request the assets abroad of former President Hosni Mubarak and his family be frozen.

CONFERENCES: * International Energy Forum meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. * Kingsman Dubai Sugar Conference 2011. * International Defence Exhibition in Abu Dhabi.

MARKETS: * Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.6 percent. * Oil New York futures for April delivery rose as much as 9.8 percent from the close on Feb. 18. They traded at $96.50 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 7:55 a.m. Dubai time. * Gold for immediate delivery declined 0.2 percent to $1,402.9 an ounce. * Dubai Financial Market General Index fell 1.3 percent; QE Index and Muscat Securities Market dropped 0.9 percent each, Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index fell 0.6 percent, ADX General Index lost 0.5 percent, and Bahrain All Share Index fell 0.4 percent. Kuwait Stock Exchange Index advanced 0.5 percent.

EQUITY MOVERS: * Emirates Telecommunications Corp. (ETISALAT UH) board meets to discuss dividend payment. * Mabanee Co. (MABANEE KK) said full-year profit rose to 18.7 million dinars from 15.3 million dinars in 2009. * Saudi Cement Co. (SACCO AB) had its price estimate raised 2 percent to 50.1 riyals at Global Investment House.

FINANCIAL RESULTS: * Air Arabia PJSC (AIRARABI UH), the Middle East’s biggest low- cost airline, said full-year profit declined to 309.56 million dirhams from 452 million dirhams a year earlier. The company plans to pay a dividend of 8 fils a share for 2010. * Barwa Real Estate Co. (BRES QD) board meeting. * National Mobile Telecommunications (NMTC KK) board meeting. * Jazeera Airways (JAZEERA KK) board meeting.

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

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