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MIDEAST STOCKS-Most Gulf markets reverse course, Kuwait extends gains on MSCI upgrade

By Ateeq Shariff

* Saudi's Gulf General surges on insurance deal * Kuwait rises for a fifth-day * Dubai ends four days of gains * Qatari telecoms gain ahead of stock split By Ateeq Shariff July 3 (Reuters) - Most major Middle East markets clawed back earlier losses on Wednesday largely on back of their financial stocks, while Kuwait rose for the fifth straight session after MSCI's decision to upgrade Kuwaiti equities to its main emerging markets index. The Saudi index rose 0.2% with Al Rajhi Bank rising 0.6% and National Commercial Bank up 0.7%. Gulf General Cooperative Insurance jumped 7.7% after it won an insurance contract worth over 5% of its revenue in 2018. The index is up 12.8% this year, led by foreign investors. Saudi exchange data released on Monday showed foreigners bought a net 16.16 billion riyals ($4.31 billion) worth of Saudi stocks last month. Kuwait's index rose 0.8%, gaining for a fifth straight session. Last week, index compiler MSCI said it would move Kuwaiti equities to its main emerging markets index in 2020, a move that could trigger billions of dollars of inflows. Kuwait has outperformed its Gulf peers in anticipation of the MSCI move, gaining over 23% in the year-to-date. Middle Eastern funds plan to continue increasing their investments in Kuwait over the next three months, a Reuters poll found earlier this week. Qatar's index edged up 0.1%. Telecommunications operators Ooredoo jumped 3.2% while Vodafone Qatar was up 0.4% ahead of their stock split on Thursday. The index has gained in recent sessions as a 10-to-one stock split for companies on the exchange is being phased in from June 9 and will be completed by July 7. The move is designed to boost liquidity by encouraging smaller investors to buy shares. In Dubai, the index dropped 0.5% after four days of gains, pressured by a 1.3% fall in Emaar Properties and a 0.4% drop in its largest lender Emirates NBD. Growth of the United Arab Emirates' non-oil private sector softened a bit in June due to a slight increase in overall input prices, a survey of companies showed on Wednesday. The Abu Dhabi index edged up 0.2% with First Abu Dhabi Bank, the United Arab Emirates' largest lender, closing 0.7% higher. Egypt's blue-chip index traded flat with Telecom Egypt adding 2.2% and market heavyweight Commercial International Bank slipping 0.5%. SAUDI ARABIA The index rose 0.2% to 8,853 points ABU DHABI The index edged up 0.2% to 4,989 points DUBAI The index lost 0.5% to 2,666 points QATAR The index was up 0.1% at 10,591 points EGYPT The index was flat 14,137 points BAHRAIN The index added 0.5% to 1,499 points OMAN The index fell 0.9% to 3,825 points KUWAIT The index increased 0.8% to 6,506 points ($1 = 3.7502 riyals) (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru Editing by Frances Kerry)