Mideast Stocks: Banks lift Qatar as all major Gulf markets rise

Qatar's index rose 2.2% as Qatar National Bank and Qatar Islamic Bank climbed 4.2% and 5% respectively


Qatar's stock market rose sharply on Thursday, buoyed by its banks and leading gains in all other major Gulf bourses.

Qatar's index rose 2.2% as Qatar National Bank and Qatar Islamic Bank climbed 4.2% and 5% respectively.

Qatar's stock exchange is developing two new Exchange Traded Funds, part of efforts by the Middle East's strongest performing stock market in 2018 to boost foreign investment, Reuters reported last week, citing CEO Rashid al-Mansoori.

Companies on Qatar's exchange in 2018 increased foreign ownership limits to 49%, most of which had previously been set at 25%, drawing a flood of cash that helped to boost the main index by more than 20% last year.

"Now the minimum will be 49% for all Qatari companies ... this will attract more liquidity and more room for foreign investors to invest," said Mansoori.

The Abu Dhabi index was up 0.8% as market heavyweight First Abu Dhabi Bank gained 1.1% to 14.4 dirhams, offsetting losses among other Abu Dhabi banks.

The bank's shares touched a record 17 dirhams late last month following a foreign ownership limit increase to 40% from 25%.

But the stock has seen cooling since then, under pressure from the global trade dispute and geopolitical worries, and as MSCI retained its foreign inclusion factor at 25%, disregarding the foreign ownership limit rise.

Saudi's index traded 0.2% higher, with the kingdom's largest petrochemical maker, Saudi Basic Industries, rising 1.3% and Al Rajhi Bank adding 0.4%.

Al-Etihad Cooperative Insurance gained 1.8% after the Capital Market Authority approved an increase in its capital to 400 million riyals ($107 million) from 275 million.

Saudi Cement was up 1.6% after its board proposed a cash dividend of 1.5 riyals per share for first half of the year.

In Dubai, the index edged up 0.1%, with Emaar Properties, the emirate's biggest listed developer, climbing 1.4%.

($1 = 3.7500 riyals)

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

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