|20 October, 2019

Mideast Stocks-Banks lead Saudi market higher; most Gulf markets open weak

The Saudi market rose 2%, extending gains for a third straight session with all banking stocks seeing a rise

Saudi Arabia's stock market rose sharply on Sunday morning as banking shares led blue-chip gains, while major Gulf bourses traded lower.

The Saudi market rose 2%, extending gains for a third straight session with all banking stocks seeing a rise. National Commercial Bank, the kingdom's largest lender by assets, surged 5.9%, its biggest intraday gain since September 2018. Al Rajhi Bank was up 1.9%.

The index had on Wednesday snapped a seven-day losing streak on the back of rising financial stocks, against the backdrop of expectations for improved third-quarter earnings.

Separately, Saudi Aramco has put off the planned launch of its initial public offering in hopes that pending third-quarter results will bolster investor confidence in the world's largest oil firm, Reuters reported on Friday citing two sources familiar with the matter.

Aramco was expected to announce plans this week to float a stake of between 1% and 2% on the kingdom's Tadawul market, in what would have been one of the world's largest ever public offerings, worth upwards of $20 billion.

In Abu Dhabi the index dropped 0.4%, driven down by a 0.7% fall in the country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank and a 0.9% drop in Aldar Properties.

But Sharjah Islamic Bank gained 2.5% after it reported a rise in nine-month net profit.

The Qatari index was down 0.2%, with market heavyweight Industries Qatar losing 0.6% and Commercial Bank dropping 1.3%. The former is expected to announce third-quarter financials later this week.

By contrast Qatar Islamic Bank added 0.7%. On Thursday, the sharia-compliant lender received preliminary approval from Qatar's Financial Markets Authority to perform financial services activities.

Dubai's main share index edged down 0.1%, as budget airliner Air Arabia slid 2.2% and telecommunications firm du lost 1.6%.

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

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