DUBAI, March 26 Stock markets in the Gulf look
set to consolidate on Sunday with few fresh incentives, although
Saudi Arabia may be supported by progress on reforms that could
help it join MSCI's emerging market index.
U.S. and European bourses closed Friday slightly lower while
Brent oil continued to hold slightly above $50 a barrel.
The Saudi bourse said late on Thursday that it would extend
the period for settling trades and introduce short-selling on
April 23, reforms demanded by MSCI. The reforms had already been
expected sometime in the second quarter but the date is positive
as it will give MSCI time to evaluate their impact before
deciding in June whether to put Riyadh on its review list.
However, if MSCI follows its normal schedule Riyadh would
not join the index until mid-2019, so the prospect of inclusion
may not boost the market much for now.
In Dubai, business magazine Arabian Business quoted sources
as saying Emaar Malls was bidding up to $800 million
to acquire Souq.com.
But Emaar Malls has not commented on the report and it is
unclear whether any bid could supersede Amazon.com's agreement
in principle, revealed last week, to buy the online retailer, so
Emaar Malls shares may not move in response to the report.
In Saudi Arabia, shares in Arab Bank go
ex-dividend on Sunday, which could pressure the price.
(Reporting by Andrew Torchia)