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imagezaDUBAI: Qatar's bullish economic outlook helped lift its bourse to a two-week high on Sunday, while Egypt's Ezz Steel slumped to a 30-month low after saying its former chairman's jail sentence would impact future investments.

"Qatar will likely continue to outperform the region it is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and has a lot of liquidity in the system," said Shahid Hameed, Global Investment House head of asset management for the Gulf region.

Qatar's index rose 1 percent to its highest close since September 4 The Gulf state is the best performing regional market this year, falling 2.9 percent.

A Reuters poll of analysts in June forecast the economy to expand 16.7 percent in 2011.

Islamic bank Masraf Al Rayan gained 1.4 percent, accounting for nearly half of all shares traded. Industries Qatar climbed 2.8 percent and Barwa Real Estate advanced 1.9 percent.

Qatar will host the 2022 soccer World Cup, which is expected to further boost its economy.

Egypt's main index was dragged 0.9 percent lower by Ezz Steel which fell to a two-and-a-half-year low, extending losses after a court jailed its former chairman and ordered the withdrawal of two of its licences.

The company shed 10 percent before trading was suspended, after saying the verdict would not affect current operations but was likely to hit future investments.

In Abu Dhabi, the index fell 0.2 percent to its lowest close since August.22.

Newly listed Eshraq Properties fell 2 percent, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank dropped 1.3 percent and National Bank of Abu Dhabi slipped 1.4 percent.

In Oman, bluechips lifted the index for a fourth straight session, up 0.3 percent.

Oil services company Renaissance Services gained 0.7 percent and Bank Muscat closed 1 percent higher.

"The market expected a rally after a week of consolidation, but overall activity is still lower than our anticipation," said Kanaga Sundar, Gulf Baader Capital Markets head of research.

"Hopefully, further clarity in the global picture and emerging Q3 results should help with the improvement in market volumes."

Investors are following developments over the euro zone debt, while looking for cues on the US economic outlook.

Omani banks are expected to lead a rise in quarterly earnings from the previous quarter, according to Sundar.

In Kuwait, telecoms operator Zain led the trading turnover, slipping 2 percent. National Investment Co shed 1.8 percent Kuwait Finance House declined 1.1 percent. The index shed 0.4 percent.

In July, the regulator Capital Markets Authority (CMA) gave investment funds until March 2012 to impose a cap on their ownership in individual financial securities.

"People are blaming the lacklustre trade on the CMA rules but I don't see major challenges in the market" said Global's Hameed.

"Q3 results are expected to be generally muted and fairly in-line with Q2 results. People don't expect much fireworks or negative surprises."

Copyright Reuters, 2011

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