Mideast Stocks: Banks boost Saudi index; wide sell-off weighs on Egypt

Saudi index sees biggest gain in nearly 3 months

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. A trader monitors stocks at a Saudi Bank in Dammam October 26, 2008.

Image used for illustrative purpose. A trader monitors stocks at a Saudi Bank in Dammam October 26, 2008.

REUTERS/Stringer

Saudi Arabia's stock market rose sharply on Wednesday, with all its banks gaining amid advancing oil prices on positive news from China's services sector, while Egypt's index ended lower as most of its blue-chip stocks dropped.

Oil prices were up boosted by a wider market pickup, after three days of losses on lingering concern about a weakening global economy. 

Global markets rebounded after a private survey showed that activity in China's services sector expanded at the fastest pace in three months in August as new orders rose, prompting the biggest increase in hiring in over a year.

In Saudi, the index advanced 1.7%, for its biggest intraday gain since June 10. Al Rajhi Bank was up 2.7% and National Commercial Bank, the country's largest lender, surged 4.7%.

Saudi gym network operator Leejam Sports gained 0.6% after it announced a 0.5 riyal ($0.1333) per share dividend for the second quarter.

Egypt's blue-chip index dropped 1.1%, with 23 of thirty stocks declining.

The country's largest lender Commercial International Bank fell 0.7% and Talat Mostafa climbed 3.2%.

Palm Hills Development added 1.3% after the firm reported a higher second quarter profit.

In Dubai the index edged up 0.1%, changing its course to close higher, with Emirates NBD gaining 0.7%, extending its gains for a third day in a row.

On Monday, the lender had soared 14.9%, reaching its highest level since October 2007, following the bank's announcement it would raise foreign ownership limit to 20% from 5% with immediate effect. The lender also said it intends to raise that limit to 40% in future. 

Arabtec Holding ended 1.7% higher, the top gainer on the index, after the developer said it is willing to explore possibility of entering into a cooperation agreement in construction sector with Trojan Holding.

In a separate disclosure to the bourse the firm also announced appointment of Wail Farsakh as chief operating officer.

However, major stocks in real estate division capped the gains with Emaar Properties shedding 0.2% and DAMAC Properties losing 1%.

On Monday, Dubai set up a real estate planning commission to regulate projects and avoid competition between semi-government and private firms, in a move designed to address the property market slump. 

Heavy oversupply in the property market, an important sector of Dubai's economy, has seen residential prices slide by at least a quarter since mid-2014.

The Abu Dhabi index added 0.4% led by a 0.9% rise in the country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank and a 1.4% gain in Aldar Properties

In Qatar, the index edged down 0.1%, to snap a four-day winning streak, with market heavyweight Industries Qatar declining 1.5%.

($1 = 3.7498 riyals)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru Editing by Frances Kerry) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918067497129;))


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