|16 January, 2020

Mideast Stocks: Financials lift most of Gulf, blue-chips boost Egypt

Aramco closes down

A trader works at the Egyptian stock exchange in Cairo, Egypt, . REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

A trader works at the Egyptian stock exchange in Cairo, Egypt, . REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

All major Gulf markets closed higher on Thursday, led by financial stocks as oil prices rose after the U.S.-China trade agreement was signed, while gains in blue-chips buoyed Egypt.

Oil prices rose on Thursday after the United States and China agreed on an eagerly awaited Phase 1 trade deal, giving some relief to markets.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index ended 0.3% up, with Al Rajhi Bank gaining 0.5% and Banque Saudi Fransi up 1.4%.

Middle Eastern fund managers plan to increase investments in Saudi Arabia, while keeping exposure in the rest of the region at current levels, according to a Reuters poll. 

Five of nine managers polled said they would increase their investments in Saudi Arabia, anticipating favourable policy reforms and market opportunities.

But state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco slipped a further 0.3% to 34.6 riyals ($9.22).

On Wednesday, JP Morgan started coverage of the energy giant with an "overweight" rating and a price target of 37 riyals ($9.86), a stronger recommendation than Goldman Sachs' "neutral," Morgan Stanley's "underweight" and HSBC's "hold" ratings.

In Dubai, the index rose 0.4% with its largest lender Emirates NBD and Dubai Islamic Bank rising 1.9% and 0.7%, respectively.

National Central Cooling Co (Tabreed) advanced 2.5%, a day after it announced establishment of a new entity to consolidate its service businesses.

However, the gains were capped by losses at developer Emaar Properties, which fell 1.4%.

Qatar's main share index was also up 0.4%, extending gains for a sixth session in a row, with Qatar Islamic Bank increasing 1.3%. On Wednesday, the sharia-compliant lender reported a rise in its annual net profit.

The Abu Dhabi index edged up 0.1%, supported by a 0.4% gain in First Abu Dhabi Bank .

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index closed 0.4% higher with market heavyweight Commercial International Bank COMI.CA rising 1.2% and Egypt Kuwait Holding increasing 1.4%.

Stock exchange data showed that foreign investors were net-buyers of Egyptian stocks.

($1 = 3.7513 riyals)

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

More From Markets