Mideast Stocks: Saudi gains as lockdown eases; Egyptian blue chips advance

Saudi Arabia stock market closed higher on Sunday

  
A Saudi trader monitors stocks at the Saudi stock market in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 8, 2020.

A Saudi trader monitors stocks at the Saudi stock market in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 8, 2020.

REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

The Saudi Arabia stock market closed higher on Sunday after an easing of the kingdom's coronavirus lockdown while gains in blue-chip companies buoyed the Egyptian bourse.

The benchmark Saudi index, which opened after a five-session break, advanced 2.3% as the country's largest lender National Commercial Bank soared by 7% and Al Rajhi Bank posted a 2.7% gain.

Saudi Arabia began easing restrictions on movement and travel more than two months after stringent measures were introduced to help to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Restrictions will be eased in three phases, culminating in the complete lifting of a curfew - apart from in the holy city of Mecca - from June 21, the state news agency reported on Tuesday.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index rose 1.1%, with most constituents in positive territory and market heavyweight Commercial International Bank up 1%.

Stock exchange data showed that Egyptian investors were net buyers.

Dubai's main index retreated 0.8%, weighed down by a 1.7% fall for the country's largest sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank and a 0.9% decline for Emirates NBD Bank.

The Abu Dhabi index added 0.5%, bolstered by a 0.5% rise for First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Qatar's index edged down 0.3%. Qatar National Bank, the Gulf's largest lender, slid 3% and Qatar Islamic Bank lost 1.1%.

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru Editing by David Goodman) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))

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