May 24, 2018 / 3:07 PM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar market up on foreign ownership hopes, other markets flat

* Dubai closes down, ending two-day rally

* Jabal Omar pulls Saudi down

* Abu Dhabi, Qatar close higher but volumes remain weak

By Katie Paul

DUBAI, May 24 (Reuters) - Qatari stocks led regional gains on Thursday after the government announced it was moving ahead with a draft law to allow full foreign ownership of companies.

Qatar's index rose 0.6 percent, despite lingering questions about how the plan differed from a similar draft law proposed in 2016. Non-Qatari investors would still be limited to 49 percent stakes in listed companies.

Gains were led by Qatar Islamic Bank, which rose 2.1 percent.

The announcement came days after the United Arab Emirates cabinet decided to open certain sectors to 100 percent foreign investment, while also granting residency visas of up to 10 years to investors and some professionals.

Dubai's stock index edged up 0.3 percent, with property developers like Emaar Malls and Damac Properties among the biggest winners.

Property stocks surged early this week after the foreign investment announcement, but then lost momentum because of a lack of details about the plan and uncertainty over whether it will make much difference to demand for local real estate.

Dubai amusement park operator DXB Entertainments also pulled the market higher as it continued a rebound from record lows in heavy trade, closing up 3.4 percent at 0.42 dirhams.

DXB has been on a downtrend for almost two years because of losses suffered by the company and worse-than-expected attendance numbers, but has gained 16.5 percent over the last four days. The median target price of seven analysts covering the stock is 0.73 dirham, according to Thomson Reuters data.

In Abu Dhabi, the index climbed 0.3 percent as energy investment firm TAQA jumped 4.9 percent; it is up 133 percent year-to-date on the back of strong oil prices.

The Saudi index closed roughly flat after profit-taking in some banks. National Commercial Bank lost 0.4 percent, while SABB lost 2.8 percent.

Appliance maker and distributor Shaker added 2.6 percent in early trade, but ultimately slid back to close down 2.6 percent. It had begun to surge on Wednesday after a subsidiary signed a memorandum of understanding with Signify , formerly known as Philips Lighting, to conduct efficiency studies and retrofitting across Saudi Arabia.

In Oman, the index edged up 0.2 percent as Al Izz Islamic Bank surged 3.9 percent.

Al Izz said Oman Arab Bank, a much bigger company which is a subsidiary of Oman International Development and Investment Co (OMINVEST), had proposed a strategic collaboration that might lead to an eventual merger. OMINVEST closed flat.

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index was flat at 8,038 points.

DUBAI

* The index rose 0.3 percent to 2,954 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index rose 0.3 percent to 4,601 points.

QATAR

* The index rose 0.6 percent to 9,049 points.

KUWAIT

* The index was down 0.7 percent to 4,688 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index was down 0.3 to 1,263 points.

OMAN

* The index was up 0.2 percent to 4,564 points.

EGYPT

* The index was down 0.2 percent to 16,634 points.

$1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham $1 = 3.75 Saudi riyals Reporting by Katie Paul; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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