Mideast Stocks: Banks aid Saudi index; other major markets mixed

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index gained 0.5%


Saudi Arabia's stock market rose on Tuesday led by banking shares, as the kingdom is set to triple value-added tax (VAT) starting from July 1, while other major regional markets were mixed.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index gained 0.5%, with Al Rajhi Bank rising 0.5% and petrochemical firm Saudi Basic Industries adding 0.8%.

The kingdom will triple value-added tax to 15% from 5% as of July 1, seeking to shore up finances hit by low oil prices as the coronavirus outbreak pummels global demand for its lifeline export.

Samba Financial Group, however, slipped 0.4%, after three straight sessions of gains spurred by an initial merger agreement with National Commercial Bank (NCB), the kingdom's biggest lender, to create a combined entity with almost $214 billion in assets.

NCB was up 0.7%.

In Qatar, which has the second highest tally of coronavirus infections among the six Gulf Arab states, the index rose 0.2%. Ezdan Holding  jumped 10%.

The Gulf state aims to further ease coronavirus curbs from July 1, allowing the limited reopening of restaurants, beaches and parks, as infections have passed their peak and the rate was subsiding, authorities said.

Qatar has also announced that from Aug. 1, it will permit flights from low-risk countries to resume, malls to operate at full capacity and other markets at limited capacity.

Dubai's main share index lost 0.5%, weighed by a 1.8% fall in blue-chip developer Emaar Properties and a 1.4% decline in Emaar Malls.

The Abu Dhabi index traded flat, as telecoms firm Etisalat fell 1%, whereas the country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank was up 0.4%.

(Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise; Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))

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