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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf softens despite oil rebound; Ezz Steel lifts Egypt

*Dubai, Abu Dhabi register among lowest trading volumes this year. *Egypt's Ezz Steel climbs above April 2010 peak. DUBAI, March 18- Gulf stock markets eased on Sunday as gains in oil prices at the end of last week failed to spur activity, though Ezz Steel helped to lift Egypt's index.

Source: Reuters

EXCLUSIVE-Qatar asks U.S. to investigate UAE bank for 'financial warfare'

*Qatar under economic blockade by UAE and Saudi Arabia. LONDON, March 18- Qatar has asked U.S. regulators to investigate the U.S. subsidiary of the largest bank in the United Arab Emirates, accusing it of "bogus" foreign exchange deals designed to harm its economy as part of a blockade by Gulf neighbours. The request for an investigation deepens the diplomatic crisis...

Source: Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Milaha boosts Qatar before index entry, Al Rajhi pulls down Saudi

*Passive funds flow into Milaha on eve of FTSE index entry. DUBAI, March 15- A surge by Qatar Navigation lifted the Qatari equity index on Thursday ahead of the stock's entry into FTSE indexes, while profit-taking in Al Rajhi Bank pulled down Riyadh. Qatar Insurance, which sank 8.4 percent on Wednesday because it will be removed from some FTSE indexes at the same time,...

Source: Reuters

Bahrain counts on fintech, Saudi ties to revive indebted economy

*Bahrain hit hard by 2011 protests, oil price plunge. Shi'ite protests against Sunni Muslim rulers in 2011 hurt Bahrain's image. Saudi Arabia, a friend and sponsor, sent soldiers to help quash the unrest in Bahrain and growth and foreign investment slowed.

Source: Reuters

Facing boycott, Qatar focuses on self-reliance in five-year plan

DUBAI, March 14- Qatar launched a five-year development plan on Wednesday that focuses on making the tiny country more self-reliant in the face of a boycott by other Arab states. The 333- page plan, released by Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser al-Thani, aims for Qatar to satisfy 30 percent of its demand for farm animals and 65 percent of its demand for fish...

Source: Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Region mostly soft, some Saudi stocks surge on positive news

*Qatar Insurance sinks before removal from FTSE indexes. *Al Rajhi Bank retreats in Saudi Arabia. DUBAI, March 14- Most Middle Eastern stock markets were soft on Wednesday with Qatar pulling back after two days of strong gains, but a few individual stocks in Saudi Arabia rose sharply in response to positive news.

Source: Reuters

Microsoft plans to open its first Middle East data centers as it steps up cloud challenge to Amazon

Microsoft is looking to boost its cloud-computing presence in the region.


Trump and Tillerson disagreed on key diplomatic issues

President Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday, and they disagreed on a plethora of issues.

Source: Reuters

UPDATE 2-Accountants to face higher EU scrutiny on aggressive tax planning

*EU updates list of tax havens, adds Bahamas, delists Bahrain. BRUSSELS, March 13- European Union finance ministers agreed new measures on Tuesday to force accountants and banks to report aggressive tax schemes that help companies shift profits to low-tax countries. Ministers also added the Bahamas, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Saint Kitts and Nevis to a blacklist...

Source: Reuters

MIDEAST STOCKS-Higher ownership ceilings boost Qatar, Egypt climbs on CIB

*Qatar National Bank, Industries Qatar surge once again. *El Sewedy Electric continues climbing on big contract. DUBAI, March 13- Qatar's stock market continued rising on Tuesday after two top companies said they were raising their ceilings for foreign ownership, while strength in Egypt's biggest bank lifted that market.

Source: Reuters