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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf mostly weak early on though Qatar partially rebounds

DUBAI, March 1 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets were mostly weak in early trade on Thursday after oil prices slipped more than 2 percent overnight, although Qatar partially rebounded from its steep fall on Wednesday.

The Qatari index, which had plunged 3.1 percent on Wednesday as several stocks went ex-dividend, recovered 3.1 percent.

Industrial firm Aamal surged 3.7 percent after reporting an 8 percent gain in annual net profit, while Vodafone Qatar climbed for a third straight day after announcing strong earnings and positive licensing news. It added 2.3 percent and was the market's most heavily traded stock.

The ex-dividend stocks which led Wednesday's plunge recovered only marginally. Barwa Real Estate rose 0.9 percent, Islamic bank Masraf Al Rayan added 0.5 percent and Al Khaliji Bank was untraded.

Saudi Arabia's index fell 0.3 percent in the first half-hour as 10 of 12 banks dropped. The sector has been soft since the start of this week, partly because of concern about the government imposing retroactive Islamic tax liabilities on banks.

Al Rajhi Bank, a major target of foreign funds flowing into Saudi Arabia over the last couple of months, rebounded 0.7 percent, however.

National Shipping Co of Saudi Arabia (Bahri) gained 2.7 percent after reporting a 53 percent decline in annual net profit. In the first nine months, profit shrank 58 percent.

Dubai's index fell 0.8 percent, with Dubai Islamic Bank tumbling 6.9 percent as it went ex-dividend. DAMAC Properties, which had lost 5.7 percent on Wednesday to touch its lowest level since June 2017, rebounded 2.0 percent.

The Abu Dhabi index edged down 0.1 percent as food company Agthia slipped 2.7 percent after the board cut its recommended annual cash dividend to 12.5 percent from 15 percent in the previous year. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia Editing by Catherine Evans)