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| 16 October, 2017

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets firm, Saudi rises on banks

An investor monitors a screen displaying stock information at the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia January 18, 2016.

An investor monitors a screen displaying stock information at the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia January 18, 2016.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Most Gulf stock markets were firm in early trade on Monday with Saudi Arabia recovering from Sunday's losses as the banking sector rose on Alinma Bank's better-than-expected earnings.

DUBAI - Most Gulf stock markets were firm in early trade on Monday with Saudi Arabia recovering from Sunday's losses as the banking sector rose on Alinma Bank's better-than-expected earnings.

The main Saudi index edged up 0.2 percent in the first hour. Alinma Bank jumped 2.3 percent and was the most heavily traded stock; it reported third-quarter net profit of 542 million riyals ($145 million), up from 312 million riyals a year ago. Analysts had forecast an average of 493 million riyals.

Other Saudi banks, which have yet to report earnings, were generally firm; Al Rajhi Bank was up 0.6 percent.

The insurance sector, which sank last week on expectations for a shakeout in the sector caused by tougher regulation, was weak with Amana Insurance falling back 2.5 percent.

Dubai's index edged up 0.2 percent but Emaar Properties fell 0.7 percent. Abu Dhabi was flat; however, Aldar Properties gained 1.6 percent in heavy trade.

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Dana Gas, which is fighting sukuk holders in courts in Britain and the United Arab Emirates, arguing it does not need to redeem the instruments because they have become invalid, extended Sunday's slide, falling a further 2.6 percent.

Qatar's index lost 0.4 percent although Qatar National Bank rose 0.8 percent, after reporting solid third-quarter earnings last week.

(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Andrew Torchia and Raissa Kasolowsky) ((aziz.elyaakoubi@thomsonreuters.com; +971552994086))