Mideast Stocks: Abu Dhabi outperforms Gulf peers, Saudi index near 14-year high

Etisalat secures approvals to increase foreign ownership

A Saudi trader observes the stock market on monitors at Falcom stock exchange agency in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 7, 2018.

A Saudi trader observes the stock market on monitors at Falcom stock exchange agency in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 7, 2018.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

bu Dhabi's stock market outperformed its Gulf peers on Tuesday, driven by a bounce in telecoms giant Etisalat, while the Saudi index closed at its highest in nearly 14 years.

The Abu Dhabi index advanced 1.2%, buoyed by a 6.7% jump in Emirates Telecommunications Group, the company's biggest intraday rise in about eight months.

Etisalat said earlier in the day it had secured required approvals to increase the foreign ownership limit to 49%. 

Meanwhile, state-backed holding company ADQ said it plans to list Abu Dhabi Ports Co on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange before the end of the year. 

On Monday, ADNOC Drilling announced it intended to list on the Abu Dhabi bourse, with its parent company Abu Dhabi National Oil Co selling a minimum 7.5% stake in an initial public offering. 

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index gave up much of its early gains to close 0.1% higher. Al Rajhi Bank added 0.5%, while Mobile Telecommunications Co Saudi Arabia, also known as Zain KSA, rose 1.3%.

The Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia's sovereign fund, has made a non-binding offer to buy a 60% stake in the towers of Kuwaiti-backed Zain KSA, while two other investors offered to buy another 20% stake, valuing the towers at $807 million. 

The market was weighed down by weakness in oil prices, said Wael Makarem, senior market strategist at Exness.

Brent crude futures were down 54 cents, or 0.8%, at $71.70 a barrel by 0126 GMT, as Saudi Arabia's sharp cuts in crude contract prices for Asia sparked fears over slower demand.

Dubai's main share index added 0.1%, helped by a 1.5% gain in Emaar Malls after the company got regulatory approval to merge with parent company Emaar Properties. Emaar Properties retreated 0.5%.

Logistic firm Aramex finished 0.8% higher after saying it has split its core businesses as part of a reshuffle aimed at capturing growth in the post-COVID-19 transportation and logistics industry. 

The Qatari benchmark was flat.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index added 0.2% to snap two sessions of losses, as most of the stocks ended in positive territory. Egypt Kuwait Holding gained 1.3%.

Egypt's net foreign reserves rose to $40.672 billion in August from $40.609 bln in July, the central bank said on Monday. 

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))

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