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MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar hits highest in nearly 2 years, financials lift most Gulf markets

Abinaya Vijayaraghavan

Gulf markets@

* Qatar index at its highest level since March 2017

* 14 of 20 stocks on Qatar index rise

* Saudi's Al Khodari gains after plan to cut accumulated losses

Jan 10 (Reuters) - The Qatar stock market hit its highest level in nearly two years on Thursday, as financial stocks boosted most major Gulf bourses ahead of corporate earnings announcements next week. Saudi's main index gained 0.8 percent, aided by a 1.6 percent rise in Al Rajhi Bank and a 1.2 percent increase in Saudi Basic Industries. Contractor Al Khodari rose 1.7 percent after its board proposed to use its statutory reserve of 71 million riyals ($19 million) to reduce a part of its losses. The proposal seeks to cut accumulated losses to 202 million riyals from 273 million. Egypt's blue-chip index was flat, with El Sewedy Electric adding 2 percent and Commercial International Bank inching up 0.1 percent. Egypt's biggest listed lender said its board had approved a capital increase to 50 billion Egyptian pounds ($2.8 billion) from 20 billion pounds. Egypt's annual urban consumer price inflation decreased to 12.0 percent in December from 15.7 pct in November, the official statistics agency CAPMAS said. Qatar's index rose 1.2 percent to hit its highest since March 2017, with 14 of its twenty stocks gaining. The index was boosted by financial shares, with Industries Qatar adding 2.9 percent and Qatar Islamic Bank increasing 1.3 percent. Qatar National Bank rose 0.8 percent. The largest bank by assets in the Middle East and Africa is raising a 2 billion euro ($2.3 billion) syndicated loan, according to LPC, a fixed income news service that is part of Refinitiv.

The Abu Dhabi index inched up 0.2 percent, also boosted by financials. First Abu Dhabi Bank, the largest bank in the United Arab Emirates, added 0.3 percent and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank was up 0.6 percent. Dubai's index also gained 0.2 percent with Emirates NBD rising 0.6 percent and Ajman Bank increasing 2.6 percent. Growth in the UAE's non-oil private sector fell in December to its slowest rate since October 2016, a survey showed. The seasonally adjusted Emirates NBD UAE Purchasing Managers' Index, which covers manufacturing and services, dropped to 54.0 in December from 55.8 in November.

SAUDI The index rose 0.8 pct toARABIA 8,210 pointsDUBAI The index edged up 0.2 pct to

2,546 points

QATAR The index was up 1.2 pct at

10,658 points

ABU DHABI The index added 0.2 pct to

4,962 points

EGYPT The index was flat at 13,367

points

KUWAIT The index jumped 1.2 pct to

5,453 points

OMAN The index was flat at 4,311

points

BAHRAIN The index gained 0.3 pct to

1,342 points

($1 = 0.8672 euros)

($1 = 3.7508 riyals)

($1 = 17.8900 Egyptian pounds)

(Reporting by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter)