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MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf rises in quiet trade, Egypt declines
March 21, 2017 / 1:46 PM / 8 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf rises in quiet trade, Egypt declines

* Abu Dhabi is Gulf top performer

* Aldar Properties climbs after AGM

* Dubai’s trading volume is lowest this year

* Saudi loses steam as insurance, telecom weigh

* Egyptian Chemical Industries up on land sale plan

By Andrew Torchia and Celine Aswad

DUBAI, March 21 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets were mostly higher on Tuesday, buoyed by firm global equities, although trading volumes were generally thin and the Egyptian bourse fell on profit taking.

Abu Dhabi was the top performer, climbing 1.2 percent on strong banking shares, with National Bank of Abu Dhabi up 1.9 percent.

Aldar Properties rose 1.3 percent after its chairman Abubaker al-Khoori told shareholders late on Monday of plans to increase its operating income to 2.2 billion dirhams ($599 million) in 2020 from the current 1.6 billion dirhams.

Dubai edged up 0.5 percent in its lowest volume this year as Shua Capital, which confirmed last week that it was in preliminary talks to merge with GFH Financial , added 1.6 percent. GFH was flat.

Saudi Arabia fell 0.1 percent, losing momentum in the final hour of trade as the insurance sector tumbled.

Saudi Indian Company for Cooperative Insurance slumped 8.7 percent after the board proposed reducing its capital to help cut accumulated losses and support growth plans.

Several Saudi insurance companies have announced plans to reduce losses, but many investors expect there could be mergers in the near future because of tough competition, especially amongst health insurers, which are dominated by BUPA Arabia , whose shares closed flat.

Telecommunications operators were also laggards, with Zain Saudi dropping 1.2 percent.

Meanwhile Qatar climbed 0.8 percent as the majority of shares that had witnessed passive funds inflow in the lead up to their upgrade in FTSE Russell’s secondary market index on Monday, firmed.

Shares of lender Masraf Al Rayan rose 2.4 percent and Commercial Bank jumped 3.9 percent.

“This is a follow up on the passive funds that had been flowing in,” said Kunal Damle, senior institutional sales broker at Bahrain’s SICO.

Egypt lost 0.9 percent in very thin trade, with the largest listed bank Commercial International Bank down 1.8 percent.

But export related shares were stronger, with Juhayna Food Industries and Arabian Food Industries each jumping by their 10 percent daily limit.

Shares that depend on exports have been outperforming in recent days as the pound has weakened against the U.S. dollar.

Egyptian Chemical Industries gained 2.0 percent after it said it has inviting bids to buy six plots of land which it owned in Aswan.

TUESDAY‘S HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index fell 0.1 percent to 6,913 points.

DUBAI

* The index rose 0.5 percent to 3,495 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index added 1.2 percent to 4,513 points.

QATAR

* The index climbed 0.8 percent to 10,486 points.

KUWAIT

* The index gained 0.2 percent to 6,881 points.

EGYPT

* The index lost 0.9 percent to 12,905 points.

OMAN

* The index fell 0.7 percent to 5,630 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index dropped 0.6 percent to 1,366 points.

Editing by Alexander Smith

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