May 3, 2017 / 6:03 AM / 4 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi unlikely to move much on prince's interview

DUBAI, May 3 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's stock market looks unlikely to move much on Wednesday after a rare televised interview on Tuesday night by the top economic policy official, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as he did not give spending details for which some investors had been hoping.

The prince said the government would focus on investing in the mining sector, developing the weapons industry, supporting an auto industry and improving the kingdom's logistics, both sea and air.

He also said authorities would announce a programme to address the kingdom's shortage of private housing in the third quarter of this year, aiming to arrange the construction of over a million housing units through soft loans or the Saudi Real Estate Development Fund. But he did not give a time frame or expected expenditure on those projects.

"The interview was clear in that the cash to fund those non-oil industries would come from the partial sale of Aramco... and to make sure that other parts of the economy are supportive, the finance minister said the government is committed to making on- time payment to the private sector," said a Riyadh-based investment advisor.

Delayed payments by the government were a big drag on the economy last year.

"Though the details are lacking, the sentiment is positive," the investment advisor added.

Ahead of the interview, shares of Emaar the Economic City (EEC), developer of an industrial and residential zone, and of Saudi Automotive outperformed on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in the region, markets may consolidate; Asian shares are firm but Gulf bourses have been trading near multi-week lows, unimpressed by first-quarter corporate earnings. Qatar's index for example is at 20-week low. (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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