DUBAI- Saudi Arabia's stock market was firm on Wednesday after news that senior prince Miteb bin Abdullah had been freed by authorities after settling corruption allegations against him by paying more than $1 billion.
Miteb was the first senior figure confirmed to have been released in the kingdom's sweeping anti-graft probe, and at least three other suspects have finalised settlement agreements, a Saudi official told Reuters.
The news may indicate Saudi authorities can soon wind down parts of the probe, reducing the risk of disruption to the economy. A senior Saudi commercial banker told Reuters that the number of bank accounts frozen in the crackdown, which at one stage was around 2,000, had now fallen by many hundreds.
The Saudi stock index spent almost all the day trading higher though it closed up only 0.1 percent at 6,972 points, retreating from major technical resistance around 7,000 points, a level which has capped the market since mid-October and which roughly coincides with the 200-day average.
Gainers outnumbered losers by 92 to 84, with builder Khodari adding 0.8 percent after saying it had renewed a 94 million riyal ($25 million) Islamic credit facility with Gulf International Bank.
Al Babtain Power gained 3.0 percent after saying it would distribute a cash dividend of 0.5 riyal per share for the third quarter of 2017.
Dubai's index slipped 0.3 percent before a public holiday on Thursday as the most heavily traded stock, Dubai Investments , sank 2.4 percent.
Blue chip Emaar Properties fell 1.2 percent; it has been soft for several weeks because of a slump in Dubai's real estate market and a weak stock market debut by its local development unit, Emaar Development . Emaar Development slid 3.5 percent to 5.60 dirhams, its lowest finish yet and well below its IPO price of 6.03 dirhams.
But builder Drake & Scull surged 4.4 percent; it has been strong since Monday when it announced that its shares had been included in MSCI's GCC index.
Qatar was the strongest major market, rising 0.6 percent as shipper Qatar Navigation , which has been rebounding from an eight-year low hit in mid-November, jumped 4.9 percent.
Egypt , which had surged 2.2 percent to a record closing high on Tuesday after the central bank removed caps on deposits and withdrawals of foreign currency for importers, gained a further 0.3 percent.
* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 6,972 points.
* The index fell 0.3 percent to 3,420 points.
* The index dropped 0.3 percent to 4,283 points.
* The index climbed 0.6 percent to 7,782 points.
* The index added 0.3 percent to 14,582 points.
* The index fell 0.2 percent to 6,197 points.
* The index gained 0.6 percent to 1,284 points.
* The index edged down 0.1 percent to 5,107 points.
(By Andrew Torchia, additional reporting by Tom Arnold, editing by Louise Heavens) ((firstname.lastname@example.org)(+9715 6681 7277)(Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))