|12 June, 2019

Mideast Stocks: Banks bolster Saudi, financials drag Abu Dhabi

A third tranche of the FTSE Russell emerging market index will kick in this month

An investor gestures as he monitors a screen displaying stock information in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 6, 2017.

An investor gestures as he monitors a screen displaying stock information in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 6, 2017.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Saudi Arabia's stock market rose sharply for the fourth session on Tuesday, boosted mainly by its banking shares on expectations of further capital inflows, while Abu Dhabi was weighed down by financials.

The Saudi index was up 1.6% with all its banks gaining. Al Rajhi Bank added 1.5% and National Commercial Bank climbed 3.3%. 

The index has gained nearly 15% year-to-date, outperforming other major Gulf peers in a rally led by foreign investors, who have been net buyers of Saudi stocks every month this year.

A third tranche of the FTSE Russell emerging market index will kick in this month after Saudi stocks were included in two tranches in March and April.

Late last month, the Saudi equity market joined the MSCI Emerging Market index, which is expected to trigger billions of dollars of foreign fund inflows.

Malath Cooperative Insurance added 3.1% after it renewed a vehicle insurance contract with Arab National Bank for a year with premiums from the deal expected to exceed 5% of the firm's total annual sales.

The Abu Dhabi index declined 0.6% after rising in five of the last six sessions, with most of its financial stocks sliding.

First Abu Dhabi Bank, the United Arab Emirates' largest lender, dropped 0.8% and Emirates Telecommunications was down 1.1%.

Qatar this week placed further restrictions on First Abu Dhabi Bank as it continues a probe into alleged currency manipulation begun after the UAE and other Arab states launched a boycott against Qatar in mid-2017.

The Regulatory Authority of Qatar Financial Center said on Sunday it was prohibiting the bank from undertaking any new business for customers of its Doha branch.

FAB has denied the charges.

But Waha Capital added 1.3% after it parted ways with chief executive Michael Raynes and named one of its board members as managing director in search of a new growth strategy.

Qatar's index rose 0.8% with financials leading the gains. The market heavyweight, lender Qatar National Bank , rose 2.1% and Doha Bank jumped 5% ahead of a split of their stocks taking effect later this week.

A 10-to-one stock split for companies on the exchange is being phased in from June 9, aiming to boost liquidity by encouraging smaller investors to buy shares.

Egypt's blue-chip index closed 0.4% higher, as a 2.2% gain in its heavyweight lender Commercial International Bank offset other declining stocks.

In Dubai, the index traded flat with budget airline Air Arabia gaining 2.9% and Dubai Islamic Bank losing 1%. The lender rose in the previous session after its board proposed acquiring private lender Noor Bank.   

SAUDI ARABIA The index increased 1.6% to 8,990 points

ABU DHABI The index lost 0.6% to 4,966 points

DUBAI The index was flat at 2,675 points

QATAR The index rose 0.8% to 10,584 points

EGYPT The index gained 0.4% to 14,206 points

BAHRAIN The index was down 0.1% at 1,450 points

OMAN The index was up 0.2% at 3,983 points

KUWAIT The index added 0.9% to 6,497 points

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

© Reuters News 2019

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