* Abu Dhabi’s Eshraq jumps on merger news
* Dubai’s DAMAC rises after Reuters interview with chairman
* Doha down as Fitch downgrade worries extend
* Egypt’s Global Telecom soars on Pakistani unit tower sale
* Saudi Arabia closed for Eid, others to close on Thursday
By Celine Aswad
DUBAI, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Corporate news boosted a couple of stocks in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, while a leap by Global Telecom and strong international markets lifted Egypt’s blue-chip index sharply.
Trading volumes have generally been low in the Middle East in recent days because of the approach of Eid al-Adha holidays, which began in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and will start for other markets on Thursday.
But Eshraq Properties climbed 3.6 percent in Abu Dhabi in active trade on Wednesday because of news that it plans to merge with privately held developer Reem Investments.
The companies said discussions were at an advanced stage for Reem to receive new shares in Eshraq in exchange for Eshraq acquiring Reem’s entire business and assets. They said this would create Abu Dhabi’s second largest listed developer.
“These corporate actions are what can drive some volume in the equity markets, because there is not much room left for companies to grow organically given the property market is going through a slowdown,” said a Dubai-based equity analyst.
The Abu Dhabi index edged up 0.1 percent.
Dubai’s DAMAC Properties climbed 3.3 percent in the heaviest trade in three weeks after the chairman Hussain Sajwani told Reuters he is confident DAMAC will reach its sales forecast of 7 billion dirhams ($1.9 billion) because of good demand and a stable Dubai property market.
DANMAC’s chief competitor, Emaar Properties, added 0.5 percent and Dubai’s index gained 0.7 percent.
Doha’s index declined 0.7 percent, however, weighed down for a second straight day by weak banking stocks; all six large-cap lenders fell on Wednesday including Commercial Bank , which lost 1.5 percent.
Investors have been concerned since Fitch downgraded Qatar’s credit rating by one notch to AA-minus with a negative outlook on Monday; the lower rating threatens higher funding costs for Qatari banks as they replace deposits and loans withdrawn by other Arab states that have imposed sanctions on Doha.
In Egypt, Global Telecom Holding jumped 7.6 percent to 6.93 Egyptian pounds in its heaviest trade since early June after the company and its parent Veon said their subsidiary in Pakistan, Jazz, had signed an agreement for the sale of its tower business for approximately $940 million.
As a result, Egypt’s blue-chip index gained 1.7 percent in relatively high volume but the broader EGX100 rose only 0.4 percent.
* The index added 0.7 percent to 3,638 points.
* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 4,468 points.
* The index dropped 0.7 percent to 8,801 points.
* The index gained 1.7 percent to 13,416 points.
* The index slipped 0.1 percent to 6,892 points.
* The index added 0.3 percent to 1,302 points.
* The index rose 0.1 percent to 5,053 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia)