|27 May, 2019

Mideast Stocks: Saudi slips in wider Gulf falls ahead of holiday

Saudi's stock index was down 0.3%, with market heavyweight Al Rajhi Bank shedding 0.9% and Samba Financial Group dropping 2%

Saudi Arabian stocks were weighed down by falls in financial shares on Monday as Gulf markets slipped ahead of Eid al-Fitr.

Many investors prefer to cash in holdings ahead of the Eid holiday, which lasts for a week in Saudi Arabia and at least three days in other Gulf countries.

Saudi's stock index was down 0.3%, with market heavyweight Al Rajhi Bank shedding 0.9% and Samba Financial Group dropping 2%, while Arabian Centres dipped 1.9%. The mall operator's stock has fallen in all four sessions since its listing on May 22.

The falls come despite MSCI saying earlier this month that it would include MSCI Saudi Arabia in its emerging-markets index, effective May 28, a move that could draw billions of dollars into the market.

MSCI said 30 Saudi Arabian securities would be added, representing an aggregate weight of 1.42% in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

Among the Saudi Arabian market gainers, Saudi Steel Pipes jumped 10% to its biggest percentage gain since January after cutting its accumulated losses to zero as of December 2018

Qatar's blue-chip index fell 0.5%, with blue-chip petrochemical maker Industries Qatar losing 1.9% and Mesaieed Petrochemical  decreasing 2.1%.

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.

The index has since cooled, falling about 5 percent since the start of the year on profit taking amid international political tensions.

Dubai's index fell 0.4% with bank and real estate shares sliding.

The emirate's largest lender, Emirates NBD, was down 0.5% and Emaar Development traded 2.1% lower.

The Abu Dhabi index bucked the wider regional trend and rose 0.3%, boosted by a 0.4% gain in the United Arab Emirates' biggest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank and a 0.7% rise in Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank. ($1 = 3.7499 riyals)

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

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