Mideast Stocks: Qatar shares outperform as cap on foreign ownership removed

Major Gulf stock markets registered sharp gains on Thursday

  
Qatar's traders look at share prices on an electronic display at the Doha Stock Exchange in Doha, Qatar January 8, 2020.

Qatar's traders look at share prices on an electronic display at the Doha Stock Exchange in Doha, Qatar January 8, 2020.

REUTERS/Naseem Zeitoon

Major Gulf stock markets registered sharp gains on Thursday, boosted by financials, with Qatar outperforming the region after it approved a bill to allow non-Qatari investors to own up to 100% of listed companies' capital.

In Qatar, the benchmark closed 2.8% higher, its biggest intraday gain since last April, with banks leading the gains.

Qatar Islamic Bank leapt 8.3%, and Commercial Bank surged 10%, to become the top gainer on the index.

The cabinet also decided to keep central bank liquidity support for local banks based on need as the country faces a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index gained 1.4%, reflecting the sentiment seen in the U.S. stock exchanges on Wednesday.

Al Rajhi Bank advanced 2.6%, and Saudi National Bank, the kingdom's largest lender, leapt 3.6%.

"U.S. banks are currently in the midst of earnings season with Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan leading the way. Both banks reported a massive jump in first-quarter profits, bolstering financials sector and boosting global investors' confidence about strong rebound in corporate America," said Kaia Parv, head of investment research at FXPrimus.

In Dubai, the main share index finished 2.5% higher, with blue-chip developer Emaar Properties jumping 6%, while Emirates NBD Bank added 2.1%.

Elsewhere, budget airliner Air Arabia climbed 6.4%.

The Abu Dhabi index rose 1.5%, led by a 2.1% rise in the United Arab Emirates' largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank .

The UAE stock market seems poised for a rebound, driven mainly by Saudi stocks. Saudi Arabia's benchmark index gained on Wednesday, snapping a four-day losing streak, said Parv.

"Banking shares are leading the charge, causing a ripple effect that reverberated across GCC markets."

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index added 0.3%, supported by a 2.9% rise in its top lender Commercial International Bank.

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

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