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DUBAI, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Higher dividend payout recommendations from two major companies in the Gulf may help to support stock markets in the region on Monday in the absence of direction from global markets. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan is up 0.1 percent while Brent oil futures have barely moved, trading at $55.84 a barrel.
Dubai courier Aramex's board recommended paying a cash dividend of 16 percent of the company's paid-up capital for 2016. That is up from 15 percent in 2015. Last month, Aramex reported a more than doubling in fourth-quarter net profit.
Kuwait's telecommunications operator Zain recommended a cash dividend of 35 fils per share for 2016, up from 30 fils for 2015. Zain's net profit for the three months to Dec. 31 came in at 32 million dinars ($105 million), a decrease of 11 percent from a year earlier. Saudi banks with large exposure to the construction sector may have further upside after Reuters reported on Sunday afternoon, citing banking sources, that major builder Saudi Binladin Group had received hundreds of millions of dollars from the government to settle debts since the start of this year.
"The news will definitely push investors to buy banking shares because one of the greatest concerns for that sector is higher provisioning," said a Riyadh-based analyst. (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia)