Mideast Stocks: Telecom stocks power UAE gains; Saudi declines

Abu Dhabi main index gains for 3rd straight session

  
An Emirates NBD counter is seen as traders monitor stocks at the Dubai Financial Market at Dubai World Trade Center, February 2, 2012. Image for illustrative purposes.

An Emirates NBD counter is seen as traders monitor stocks at the Dubai Financial Market at Dubai World Trade Center, February 2, 2012. Image for illustrative purposes.

REUTERS/Mohamed Al-Sayaghi

Markets in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) finished stronger on Tuesday, powered by the country's telecoms firms, which surged on the prospect non-UAE nationals' shareholdings could rise.

The Abu Dhabi benchmark firmed for a third straight session, ending 3.1% higher, after finishing the previous session up about 4%.

The index was boosted by a roughly 15% jump in Emirates Telecommunications (Etisalat), the only telecom-focused stock in the benchmark.

Etisalat saw its best day in nearly six years as the company called a board meeting for Wednesday to discuss increasing the foreign ownership limit in the firm. 

Dubai's main share index gained 1%, with Emirates Integrated Telecommunications jumping 14.6% for the stock's best session since December 2014.

Emirates Integrated Telecommunications, the sole communication services stock in the benchmark, has also called a board meeting for Wednesday to discuss raising the ownership of foreign investors. 

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, changed its company laws late last year to allow more foreign investment as it seeks to boost private sector activity. 

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's benchmark index ended 0.3% lower.

Saudi Telecom was the worst performer in the benchmark, falling 2.6%, while index heavyweight Al Rajhi Bank  declined 0.4%.

The Saudi benchmark has now dropped in three of the last four sessions.

Elsewhere, Qatar's main index lost 0.9%, dragged down mainly by a 3.7% decline in Industries Qatar.

Financials stocks also drove the losses in the Qatari index, with Masraf Al Rayan and Qatar International Islamic Bank shedding 1.3% and about 2%, respectively.

Separately, Qatar Investment Authority is generating strong returns on a multibillion-dollar bet it made on distressed debt and highly-rated bonds at the start of the COVID-19 crisis, two sources familiar with its move told Reuters. 

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index finished 0.3% higher, with Commercial International Bank (CIB), Egypt's largest private bank, gaining 1.2% and tobacco firm Eastern Co putting on 1.4%.

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru. Editing by Mark Potter) ((abyjose.koilparambil@thomsonreuters.com; +91 (0)8061822683;))

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