DUBAI- Goldman Sachs was the top broker in the Saudi market in May, both in terms of value and volume of trades, stock exchange data showed, as foreign banks benefitted from a surge of international money into the kingdom.

Foreign interest in investing in Saudi Arabia picked up ahead of the inclusion of the country's stock market in global index provider MSCI's emerging market indexes last month.

Goldman, which was not even among the top ten brokers in Saudi Arabia in April, handled 18.6% of trades by value and 12.3% by volume in May, according to data from Tadawul, the Saudi bourse.

It was followed by HSBC Saudi Arabia, which handled 9.4% of trades by value last month.

In 2017, Goldman received approval to trade equities in Saudi Arabia, joining the growing band of western investment banks and fund managers expanding in the kingdom.

"They managed to make inroads to both local and foreign businesses," said a financial industry executive.

Of the 10 top brokers in May, five were foreign, the data showed.

Goldman was the lead manager for the initial public offering (IPO) of Arabian Centres 4321.SE , which listed last month. It was the first IPO in the kingdom under Rule 144a, which allows the sale of securities primarily to qualified institutional buyers in the United States.

Saudi securities firms such as NCB Capital and Al Rajhi Capital have traditionally been top brokers in the domestic market. The Saudi market opened to foreigners in 2015.

Late last month, the Saudi equity market joined the first phase of passive fund inclusion in the MSCI Emerging Market Index, which is expected to trigger billions of dollars of foreign fund inflows.

In May, foreigners bought a record 17.62 billion riyals ($4.70 billion) of Saudi stocks, according to Saudi stock exchange data.

Foreign ownership of Saudi stocks stood at 6.64% as of May 30, the bourse data showed.

The Saudi index has gained over 12% so far this year, making it among the best performers in the Gulf region this year.

($1 = 3.7501 riyals)

(Reporting by Saeed Azhar and Hadeel Al Sayegh; Editing by Mark Potter) ((; +971 44536787; Reuters Messaging: