Mideast Stocks: Major Gulf markets off to a mixed start

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index rose 0.4%

A broker monitors stock prices on a screen at the Saudi Investment Bank in Riyadh September 5, 2013.

A broker monitors stock prices on a screen at the Saudi Investment Bank in Riyadh September 5, 2013.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Major stock markets in the Gulf were mixed in early trade, with the Saudi bourse on track to extend gains from the previous session, while financial shares weighed on the Dubai index.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark index rose 0.4%, led by a 1.7% gain in Riyad Bank and a 3.5% jump in utility the Saudi Electricity Company.

The kingdom plans to cut spending by 7.5% in next year's budget to 990 billion riyals ($263.95 billion) but expects the economy to return to growth as its management of the coronavirus crisis improves, a preliminary budget statement showed.

Elsewhere, Rabigh Refining And Petrochemical advanced 4.1% after it signed joint revolving loans and facility agreements worth 7.5 billion riyals.

Dubai's main share index lost 0.7%, with Emirates NBD Bank dropping 0.9%, while blue-chip developer Emaar Properties was down 0.4%.

Trading in shares of Arabtec Holding remained suspended after it retreated 3.3% in the previous session ahead of its shareholders' meeting.

On Wednesday, the shareholders of the Dubai-listed construction company authorised the board to file for liquidation due to its untenable financial position following the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reported, citing an internal company email.

Shareholders also authorised Arabtec to appoint AlixPartners and Matthew Wilde, or any other person or persons the board considered fit, as liquidator, two sources told Reuters.

Arabtec has yet to disclose the results of the shareholders' meeting.

The Abu Dhabi index fell 0.4%, weighed down by a 0.5% drop in the country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank and a 2.1% decline in aquaculture firm International Holding.

In Qatar, the index rose 0.4%, driven by a 1.6% rise in Qatar Islamic Bank and a 1% increase in petrochemical maker Industries Qatar.

($1 = 3.7507 riyals) (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; editing by Barbara Lewis)

© Reuters News 2020

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