|22 January, 2020

Mideast Stocks: Most major Gulf markets gain on financials; Qatar retreats

Saudi's benchmark index was up 0.3% in early trade

Saudi Arabia's stock market rose on Wednesday buoyed by heavyweight financial stocks in line with most Gulf bourses, while Qatar bucked the trend.

Saudi's benchmark index was up 0.3% in early trade. Riyad Bank gained 1.6%, while Al Rajhi Bank inched up 0.3%.

Economic growth in the Gulf will pick up this year and next, helped by Saudi Arabia's investment programme and Expo 2020 in Dubai, although the region will continue to feel the impact of oil output cuts, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia's economy grew 0.3% in 2019, and is expected to grow 2.0% in 2020 and 2.2% in 2021, the poll of 26 economists, conducted Jan. 7-21, projected.

But state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco slipped 0.3% to 34.5 riyals. EFG Hermes on Wednesday initiated Aramco's coverage with "neutral" rating, in line with most other brokerages, and set a target price of 34 riyals ($9.06) per share.

Dubai's index added 0.3% with logistic firm Aramex advancing 2.7%, while Shuaa Capital opened 1.1% higher.

On Tuesday, Shuaa Capital's offshore unit finalised agreement to manage an investment portfolio of assets valued at about $400 million.

The Abu Dhabi index edged up 0.1% as Aldar Properties and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank gained 0.9% and 0.4%, respectively.

However, the Qatari index eased 0.2%, hurt by a 1.5% slide in Qatar Electricity and Water and a 0.9% fall in Mesaieed Petrochemical.

Lender Masraf Al Rayan rose a further 0.5%, a day after posting a higher net profit for the year 2019. ($1 = 3.7513 riyals)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru, Editing by William Maclean) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918067497129;))

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