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|18 April, 2019

Mideast Stocks: Abu Dhabi hits 13-year high, most Gulf markets rise

FAB rises after foreign ownership limit hike

Investors monitor screens displaying stock information at the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange June 25, 2014.

Investors monitor screens displaying stock information at the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange June 25, 2014.

REUTERS/Stringer

Abu Dhabi's stock market rose sharply on Thursday to reach its highest level in more than 13 years, partly lifted by top lender First Abu Dhabi Bank which has gained this week after regulatory approval to raise foreign ownership limit of its shares.

The Abu Dhabi index rose 1.1 percent to its highest since December 2005 with First Abu Dhabi Bank increasing 1.5 percent. The bank has risen nearly 9 percent this week after obtaining regulatory approval last week to increase its foreign ownership limit to 40 percent from 25 percent.

First Abu Dhabi "could see significant $620 million of inflows if the foreign ownership increase to 40 percent is implemented before the last 10 trading days of April," Arqaam Capital said in a note.

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Energy firm Dana Gas added 1.9 percent after shareholders approved a share buyback programme of up to 10 percent of its capital, and a capital increase to 6.99 billion dirhams ($1.90 billion) from 6.97 billion dirhams. 

Aldar Properties rose 3.3 percent after Abu Dhabi said it would now allow all foreigners to own land and property in investment areas on a freehold basis after making changes to its real estate law.

The United Arab Emirates capital previously limited ownership largely to Emiratis and citizens of the neighbouring Gulf Cooperation Council states.

Saudi Arabia's index was down 0.5 percent with 10 of its 12 banks sliding. Al Rajhi Bank 1120.SE slipped 0.8 percent while the Middle East's largest petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries 2010.SE shed 1.1 percent.

Saudi Arabian Mining (Ma'aden) dropped 1 percent. Arqaam Capital initiated coverage on the stock with a "sell" rating with a target price of 44 riyals.

Qatar's index .QSI was up 0.4 percent with Qatar Islamic Bank increasing 2.3 percent and Qatar Commercial Bank rising 2.4 percent.

Qatar Islamic Bank and Qatar Commercial Bank posted 9.6 percent and 6.5 percent gains respectively in first-quarter net profits.

Qatar National Bank, the Middle East's largest lender, climbed 1.1 percent. The lender said it issued $850 million in Formosa bonds aimed at diversifying funding from new markets.

In Dubai, the index  traded flat with Commercial Bank Of Dubai gaining 2.6 percent after its first-quarter net profit jumped more than 21 percent. Logistics firm AramexARMX.DU on the other hand declined 1.4 percent as the stock traded ex-dividend.

Egypt's blue-chip index edged up 0.1 percent with investment firm Egypt Kuwait Holding climbing 3.4 percent.

Kuwait's premier index rose 1.1 percent with its biggest lender National Bank of Kuwait adding 1.2 percent. Earlier this week, it reported a 15.1 percent rise in first-quarter profit, helped by higher net interest income and lower provisioning charges, beating analysts' forecasts.

($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham) 

(Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru Editing by Peter Graff) ((shakeel.ahmad.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net;))

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