|12 March, 2019

Mideast Stocks: Global rally boosts most of Gulf, banks lift Saudi

Most major Gulf markets rose on Tuesday

Traders monitor stock prices on screens at the Saudi Investment Bank in Riyadh. Image used for illustrative purpose

Traders monitor stock prices on screens at the Saudi Investment Bank in Riyadh. Image used for illustrative purpose

REUTERS/Faisal AlNasser

Most major Gulf markets rose on Tuesday, lifted by financial and real estate stocks, mirroring a rally in global markets amid hopes for a U.S.-China trade deal and progress on Brexit.

Saudi Arabia's index was up 0.2 percent with its largest lender, National Commercial Bank, gaining 1 percent and bank Samba Financial Group adding 1.1 percent.

The index is up 7.8 percent this year, outperforming major Gulf markets, with big investors in Saudi Arabia pushing ahead with deals and pouring money back into stocks as the country tries to move on from journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder. 

Foreign net buying in the Saudi market picked up in the first week of March, coming in at 985 million riyals ($263 million), the highest level of foreign net buying since the week ending Jan. 17, Arqaam Capital said.

Al Babtain Power And Telecommunication 2320.SE climbed 5.7 percent after it awarded a $69.5 million contract to manufacture and supply metal structures.

Insurer Medgulf 8030.SE rose 6.3 percent after its board appointed Tarek Bin Abdullah Al-Naeem as chief executive.

But Abdulmohsen Al Hokair Group For Tourism And Development plunged 8.1 percent after it swung to a full-year net loss, partly due to a decline in revenue from its entertainment centres and hotels.

The Dubai index rose 0.3 percent, with Dubai Investments  gaining 2.3 percent and builder DAMAC Properties adding 2.2 percent.

Dubai was one of the worst performing last year due in part to property shares, but they have been rebounding after robust fourth-quarter earnings and increased construction contracts.

The government has taken measures to cut costs for key industries including aviation, real estate, and education as part of a fiscal stimulus package, Reuters reported on Monday. 

The Qatar index was up 0.2 percent after five sessions of losses. Fuel distributor Qatar Fuel advanced 1.6 percent and blue-chip petrochemical maker Industries Qatar increased 0.6 percent.

The index was one of the best performing last year as fund inflows increased after the limit on foreign ownership of Qatari stocks was raised. But the index has lost 4.6 percent this year, with some analysts considering it over-valued.

Abu Dhabi's index edged down 0.2 percent, with Emirates Telecommunications Group ETEL.AD slipping 0.5 percent.

Bank shares also fell, with the United Arab Emirates' largest lender, First Abu Dhabi Bank, and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank shedding 0.2 percent each.

Banks in the United Arab Emirates are expected to experience a rise in loan losses over the next 12 to 18 months as a decline in real estate prices and rising interest rates reduce borrowers' cash flows, according to Moody's.

Egypt's blue-chip index rose 0.3 percent with developer Sixth of October Development and Investment (SODIC)  jumping 7.4 percent, its best one-day gain since April 2018. ($1 = 3.7502 riyals)

($1 = 17.4125 Egyptian pounds) 

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

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