MIDEAST DAYBOOK: Libya Ratings Cut; Saudi Housing; Qatar Telecom

Fitch Ratings said it downgraded Libya’s long-term foreign and local currency issuer default ratings to BB from BBB. The ratings remain on rating watch negative, Fitch said.

Egypt’s bourse, home to the world’s worst performing benchmark index this year, risks losing international investment after failing to resume trading amid protests from local investors who fear deeper losses.

Libyan rebels dug in for battle after repulsing attacks by forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi that fueled talk of a civil war, as the full membership of the United Nations rebuked the regime. for more on Middle East turmoil.

Saudi King Abdullah’s pledge to increase spending on housing by 55 billion riyals ($15 billion) probably will do little to relieve the country’s home shortage unless it’s coupled with long-delayed changes in mortgage financing laws.

WHAT TO WATCH: * Bahrain said there were no Saudi Arabian military tanks in the

Persian Gulf country. * Qatari consumer prices rose at the fastest pace in more than a

year as transportation and food costs increased. * Reopening Egypt’s stock market was delayed by logistics issues

and the closure of banks, the exchange’s Vice Chairman Farid

Saleh said. * Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. maintained its 10 percent supply

cut for Murban crude, the emirate’s largest export grade. * Carlyle Group, the world’s second-biggest private equity firm,

halted plans to invest in Egypt amid unrest that toppled

President Hosni Mubarak, co-founder David Rubenstein said. * The United Arab Emirates is interested in taking part in the

recapitalization of Spanish savings banks, the Madrid-based

government said in a statement on its website.

CONFERENCES: * The Saudi Economic Forum in Riyadh, where the CEOs of Alinma

Bank and Saudi Electricity Co. will give presentations. * Global Financial Markets Forum organized by National Bank of

Abu Dhabi in Abu Dhabi. * Argus Mideast Gulf and Indian Ocean Oil conference in Dubai,

focusing on oil and products trading in the middle east.

MARKETS: * Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.4 percent. * Crude oil futures for April delivery rose 0.3 percent to

$99.90 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York

Mercantile Exchange at 8:01 a.m. in Dubai. * Gold for April delivery lost 0.1 percent to $1,430.3 an ounce. * Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index plunged 6.8 percent,

Kuwait Stock Exchange Index dropped 2.5 percent, ADX General

Index fell 0.6 percent and Bahrain All Share Index lost 0.5

percent. Muscat Securities Market surged 4.1 percent, Dubai

Financial Market General Index gained 1 percent, and QE Index

rose 0.1 percent. Morocco Casablanca Stock Exchange Index

gained 0.3 percent. * Tunisia’s stock exchange regulator suspends trading until

further notice.

EQUITY MOVERS: * Etisalat (ETISALAT UH), the Abu Dhabi-based phone company

seeking control of Kuwait’s Zain (ZAIN KK), missed a second

deadline in its attempt to acquire a 46 percent stake for $12

billion, Zain’s second-biggest shareholder said. * Zain Iraq, a unit of Kuwait’s Mobile Telecommunications Co.,

borrowed $400 million from the World Bank’s International

Finance Corp and other lenders. * Bahrain Telecommunications Co. (BATELCO BI), the phone company

known as Batelco, may consider a revised offer to

buy a 25 percent stake in Zain Saudi Arabia, Chief Executive

Officer Peter Kaliaropoulos said. * National Industries Group (NIND KK) of Kuwait had its ratings

lowered to B2 from B1 at Moody’s Investors Service. The

outlook on the ratings remains negative. * A panel of Egyptian judges recommended the annulment of a

966,000 square-meter land sale to Palm Hills Developments SAE

(PHDC EY), an Egyptian real-estate developer, by the government

because the plot wasn’t sold at an auction. * Gulf Navigation Holding (GULFNAV UH) was raised to “neutral”

from “sell” at EFG-Hermes Holding with a price estimate of

34 fils a share. * Agthia Goup PJSC (AGTHIA UH), a United Arab Emirates-based

food producer, signed a license agreement with Chiquita Brands

International Inc., to manufacture and distribute Chiquita

brand products in the Middle East. * Egypt for Poultry (EGPL EY) plans to buy back 2.365 million

shares within a month from the first day of resumption of

trade on the Egyptian Exchange.

FINANCIAL RESULTS AND MEETINGS: * Qatar Telecom QSC (QTEL QD), the Persian Gulf nation’s largest

company by revenue, said fourth-quarter profit fell 5.2

percent amid increased competition in its home market and as

margin on earnings declined. * Industries Qatar (IQCD QD), the Gulf emirate’s state-

controlled petrochemical and steel maker, said full-year

profit rose to 5.6 billion riyals from 5 billion riyals in

2009. The board proposed a dividend of 5.50 riyals a share. * Al Jouf (JADCO AB) shareholders meeting on capital increase. * Ash-Sharqiyah Development (ASACO AB) shareholders meeting.

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