Mideast Stocks: Saudi rises for a fourth day, UAE markets retreat

The Saudi index was up 0.4% in early trading

An investor gestures as he monitors a screen displaying stock information in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 6, 2017.

An investor gestures as he monitors a screen displaying stock information in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 6, 2017.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Saudi Arabian shares rose for a fourth straight day on Tuesday on expectations of further capital inflows into the market, while Abu Dhabi and Dubai fell after rising in recent sessions.

The Saudi index was up 0.4% in early trading. Financials were the biggest boost with Al Rajhi Bank and Alinma Bank gaining 1% each. Saudi Telecom traded 1.3% higher.

The index has gained over 13% year-to-date, outperforming other major Gulf peers in a rally led by foreign investors, who have been net buyers of Saudi stocks every month this year.

A third tranche of the FTSE Russell emerging market index will kick in this month after Saudi stocks were included in two tranches in March and April.

Late last month the Saudi equity market joined the MSCI Emerging Market index, which is expected to trigger billions of dollars of foreign fund inflows.

Malath Cooperative Insurance added 3.1% after it renewed a vehicle insurance contract with Arab National Bank for a year with premiums from the deal expected to exceed 5% of the firm's total annual sales.

Qatar's index rose 0.5% with banks leading the gains. The market heavyweight, lender Qatar National Bank, climbed 1.4% and Doha Bank jumped 5.1% ahead of a split of their stocks taking effect later this week.

A 10-to-one stock split for companies on the exchange is being phased in from June 9, aiming to boost liquidity by encouraging smaller investors to buy shares.

The Abu Dhabi index fell 0.4% after rising in five of last six sessions, with all financial shares sliding.

First Abu Dhabi Bank, the United Arab Emirates' largest lender, was down 0.5% and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank slipped 1.1%.

Qatar this week placed further restrictions on First Abu Dhabi Bank as it continues a probe into alleged currency manipulation begun after the UAE and other Arab states launched a boycott against Qatar in mid-2017.

The Regulatory Authority of Qatar Financial Center said on Sunday it was prohibiting the bank from undertaking any new business for customers of its Doha branch. FAB has denied the charges of currency manipulation.

In Dubai, the index was down 0.3% after three days of successive gains, pushed lower by real estate and financial stocks.

The emirate's blue-chip developer Emaar Properties shed 0.7%, while Dubai Islamic Bank decreased 0.4%. The lender rose in the last session after its board recommended the acquisition of private lender Noor Bank. (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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