June 11, 2019 / 1:14 PM / 3 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Banks bolster Saudi, financials drag Abu Dhabi

    * All Saudi banks gain
    * Malath rises on insurance deal renewal
    * Doha Bank surges ahead of stock split
    * Top lender elevates Egypt

    By Ateeq Shariff
    June 11 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's stock market rose sharply
for the fourth session on Tuesday, boosted mainly by its banking
shares on expectations of further capital inflows, while Abu
Dhabi was weighed down by financials.
    The Saudi index was up 1.6% with all its banks
gaining. Al Rajhi Bank added 1.5% and National
Commercial Bank climbed 3.3%.
    The index has gained nearly 15% year-to-date, outperforming
other major Gulf peers in a rally led by foreign investors, who
have been net buyers of Saudi stocks every month this year.
    A third tranche of the FTSE Russell emerging market index
will kick in this month after Saudi stocks were included in two
tranches in March and April.
    Late last month, the Saudi equity market joined the MSCI
Emerging Market index, which is expected to trigger billions of
dollars of foreign fund inflows.
    Malath Cooperative Insurance added 3.1% after it
renewed a vehicle insurance contract with Arab National Bank
 for a year with premiums from the deal expected to
exceed 5% of the firm's total annual sales.
    The Abu Dhabi index declined 0.6% after rising in
five of the last six sessions, with most of its financial stocks
    First Abu Dhabi Bank, the United Arab Emirates'
largest lender, dropped 0.8% and Emirates Telecommunications
 was down 1.1%.
    Qatar this week placed further restrictions on First Abu
Dhabi Bank as it continues a probe into alleged currency
manipulation begun after the UAE and other Arab states launched
a boycott against Qatar in mid-2017.
    The Regulatory Authority of Qatar Financial Center said on
Sunday it was prohibiting the bank from undertaking any new
business for customers of its Doha branch. 
    FAB has denied the charges.
    But Waha Capital added 1.3% after it parted ways
with chief executive Michael Raynes and named one of its board
members as managing director in search of a new growth strategy.

    Qatar's index rose 0.8% with financials leading the
gains. The market heavyweight, lender Qatar National Bank
, rose 2.1% and Doha Bank jumped 5% ahead of
a split of their stocks taking effect later this week.
    A 10-to-one stock split for companies on the exchange is
being phased in from June 9, aiming to boost liquidity by
encouraging smaller investors to buy shares.
    Egypt's blue-chip index closed 0.4% higher, as a
2.2% gain in its heavyweight lender Commercial International
Bank offset other declining stocks.
    In Dubai, the index traded flat with budget airline
Air Arabia gaining 2.9% and Dubai Islamic Bank
 losing 1%. The lender rose in the previous session
after its board proposed acquiring private lender Noor Bank.
 SAUDI ARABIA  The index         increased 1.6% to 8,990
 ABU DHABI     The index        lost 0.6% to 4,966 points
 DUBAI         The index          was flat at 2,675 points
 QATAR         The index        rose 0.8% to 10,584 points
 EGYPT         The index          gained 0.4% to 14,206
 BAHRAIN       The index        was down 0.1% at 1,450 points
 OMAN          The index        was up 0.2% at 3,983 points
 KUWAIT        The index        added 0.9% to 6,497 points
 (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru;
Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)
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