MidEast stocks were mixed, with Egypt reaching a record high on more foreign buying. Foreign buying has picked up as the pound continues to weaken against the U.S. dollar. The central bank there floated the currency in November.
Meanwhile, Qatar shares found support from prospects of a bank merger. Masraf Al Rayan said it is in initial talks with Barwa Bank and privately listed International Bank of Qatar to merge, in a deal that would create the second largest bank in Doha with assets of more than $44 billion. In other company news, Mobily said it signed a 2 billion riyal ($533 million) credit facility from Alinma Bank.
Saudi Arabia’s main index eased 0.7% to 7,031 points, Egypt rallied 3.4% to 12,148 points, Dubai shed 0.8% to 3,505 points, Abu Dhabi was flat at 4,479 points, Qatar jumped 1.2% to 10,394 points, Kuwait added 0.2% to 5,668 points, Oman slipped 0.3% to 5,715 points and Bahrain gained 0.2% to 1,191 points.