Mideast Stocks: Major Gulf markets gain as financial shares rise

The benchmark index in Saudi Arabia gained 0.2%


Major stock markets rose in early trade on Monday, with gains in National Commercial Bank and Samba Financial Group helping the Saudi index after they signed a binding merger agreement.

The benchmark index in Saudi Arabia gained 0.2%, with Samba Financial Group rising 2.7%, while National Commercial Bank (NCB) was up 1.7%.

National Commercial Bank, the kingdom's biggest lender, entered a binding merger agreement with smaller lender Samba Financial Group to create a combined entity with 837 billion riyals ($223.13 billion) in assets, NCB said on Sunday.

Low oil prices and weak economic growth are driving bank consolidation across the Gulf.

Dubai's main share index rose 0.4%, with blue-chip developer Emaar Properties gaining 1.5% and it unit Emaar Malls was up 2.1%.

Dubai's non-oil private sector expanded for a third consecutive month in September as it continued to see a modest improvement in business conditions, a survey showed on Sunday.

The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit Dubai Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 51.5 in September from 50.9 in August.

The Abu Dhabi index added 0.3%, helped by a 0.5% rise in the country's largest lender First Abu Dabhi Bank and a 1.5% increase in Aldar Properties.

In Qatar, the index  inched up 0.2%, bolstered by a 0.6% rise in Qatar National Bank, a day after it retreated 1.7%.

On Sunday, the Gulf's largest lender saw a roughly 18% decline in its third-quarter profit as it booked more loan loss provisions amid global economic uncertainty.

($1 = 3.6400 Qatar riyals) ($1 = 3.7511 riyals)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru, editing by Louise Heavens) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))

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