STOCKS NEWS MIDEAST-Egypt's bourse gains as Sisi runs for president

Reuters Middle East

0850 GMT - Egypt's stock market rises, as expected, after former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said late on Wednesday he would run for president.

Egypt's index rises 0.9 percent to 8,554 points, with gains in various sectors including property, banking and industry.

Sisi, who also stepped down as head of the military on Wednesday, is expected to win the forthcoming election easily as many Egyptians consider him the kind of strong man needed to stabilise a country in crisis.

He also enjoys the backing of most oil-exporting Gulf Arab states, which have provided Cairo with billion of dollars in financial aid.

Local stocks have surged since the army deposed former president Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood last July, with the main index up about 90 percent from a June 2013 low.

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0735 GMT - Blue-chip stocks lift Qatar's index, while markets in the United Arab Emirates slip.

Doha's two index heavyweights, Qatar National Bank and Industries Qatar gain 2.1 and 2.3 percent respectively.

Commercial Bank of Qatar (CBQ) rises 2.8 percent and Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding Co climbs 1.8 percent.

CBQ signed an agreement on Wednesday to distribute Mesaieed's dividend payments, which listed last month and plans to pay a 35 percent cash dividend for the last four months of 2013.

United Development Company gains 4.6 percent after its shareholders approved a 10 percent cash dividend.

Qatar Islamic Bank, which said this week it was in talks to buy into Turkey's Bank Asya, is up 0.7 percent.

The index rises 1 percent to 11,435 points.

The Dubai and Abu Dhabi benchmarks edge lower as the momentum from an early-year rally wanes.

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0542 GMT - Egypt's stock market is likely to rise on Thursday after former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he would run for president in a forthcoming election he is expected to win easily.

Sisi, who on Wednesday quit as army chief and defence minister ahead of his presidential run, is popular among Egypt's retail investors who have been driving up share prices ever since he toppled former president Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood last July.

Many see Sisi as the kind of strong man needed to stabilise a country in crisis. Egypt's benchmark index has risen 25 percent this year, making it the region's second best performer after Dubai.

Other markets also look bullish after gaining in recent sessions.

Dubai's Shuaa Capital almost hit its daily limit on Wednesday, jumping 14.7 percent on speculation that it might win some lucrative IPO mandates.

In Saudi Arabia, retailer Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair may attract investors' interest after NBK Capital raised its fair value estimate by 54 percent to 200 riyals. The stock closed at 176.25 riyals on Wednesday.

Outside of the Gulf, Asian markets were in skittish mood on Thursday following a soft finish on Wall Street and amid simmering tensions over Ukraine. (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Matt Smith)

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