MIDEAST STOCKS-Milaha lifts Qatar before index entry, Gulf mostly quiet early on


DUBAI, March 15 (Reuters) - Strength in Qatar Navigation (Milaha) lifted the Qatari stock index in early trade on Thursday ahead of the stock's entry into FTSE indexes, while most of the region was quiet.

Qatar's index added 0.6 percent as Milaha climbed 2.3 percent. The stock will join FTSE's All-World and AllCap indexes after the close on Thursday, and this is triggering inflows of passive funds.

Qatar Insurance, which sank 8.4 percent on Wednesday because it will be removed from some FTSE indexes at the same time, lost a further 1.7 percent and was the market's most heavily traded stock.

In Dubai, the index edged down 0.2 percent as cooling services provider Tabreed tumbled 5.8 percent as it went ex-dividend.

Builder Arabtec gained 0.4 percent after the board of the company, which is recovering from more than two years of financial troubles, proposed to resume paying a cash dividend for 2017. The dividend is small, just 0.0205 dirham per share, but it comes earlier than expected; in a recovery plan released in March 2017, Arabtec said it would resume paying dividends in 2019.

Saudi Arabia's index slipped 0.5 percent in the first 40 minutes on continued profit-taking in a few blue chips such as Al Rajhi Bank, down 1.6 percent.

But Yanbu Cement gained 1.0 percent after proposing a dividend of 1.25 riyal per share for the second half of 2017, up from 0.75 riyal for the first half although down from 2.0 riyals for the second half of 2016. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia Editing by Gareth Jones)