January 9, 2019 / 8:07 AM / 15 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Banks lift Saudi, property stocks aid UAE

Jan 9 (Reuters) - The Saudi stock market inched up in early trading on Wednesday as its bank shares gained, while most Gulf markets were firm in quiet trading ahead of corporate earnings announcements next week.

Saudi Arabia’s main index was up 0.1 percent, with Al Rajhi Bank rising 0.2 percent and Samba Financial Group increasing 0.6 percent.

Al Ahsa Development gained 3 percent after signing an agreement to buy a 25 percent stake in Twareat Medical Center for 15 million riyals.

The Dubai index rose 0.4 percent, helped by real estate stocks. The index was lifted by the property sector in the last session, before reversing course after they fell.

The emirate’s biggest listed developer, Emaar Properties , added 1.5 percent and Damac Properties was up 0.7 percent.

Dubai’s weak real estate market was a big drag for property shares last year. The downturn is forcing construction and engineering firms to cut jobs and halt expansion plans, raising risks for the wider economy.

The Abu Dhabi index was flat, with Emirates Telecommunications losing 0.2 percent and Dana Gas shedding 0.5 percent.

But Aldar Properties rose 0.6 percent in light trading. The company launched a 2 billion dirham ($544.54 million) development on Tuesday, offering residential and commercial land plots for purchase by all nationalities.

Qatar’s index added 0.2 percent, with United Development company rising 3.1 percent and Qatar Fuel increasing 3 percent.

$1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham $1 = 3.7507 riyals Reporting by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; editing by Louise Heavens

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