March 27, 2019 / 2:00 PM / 24 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Blue-chips lift Qatar, Banks boost Saudi

    * 18 of 20 stocks on Qatar index rise
    * Qatar's Mesaieed at its highest in 5-months
    * Kingdom holding, Saudi Telecom gain after Careem deal
    * Egypt's GTH slides after extending maturity of credit
facility

    By Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Ateeq Shariff
    March 27 (Reuters) - Qatar's stock market rose on Wednesday,
lifted by shareholder approval for an increase in foreign
ownership limits at Qatar Fuel and Mesaieed Petrochemical, while
Saudi Arabia rose on the back of its banks.
    The Qatar index rose 1.7 percent, with 18 of 20
stocks increasing. Qatar Fuel added 4.2 percent and
Mesaieed Petrochemical was up 5.8 percent.
    Last year, their parent company, state-owned energy firm,
Qatar Petroleum said it would raise the foreign ownership limit
in its listed-units to up to 49 percent after limits on foreign
ownership were amended.
    The increase in foreign ownership limit was approved by the
companies' shareholders in their annual general meeting.
    Qatar Fuel and Mesaieed could also be included in the MSCI
emerging market index in May, which will bring in passive
inflows of $231 million and $197 million, respectively, Arqaam
Capital said in a note.
    "This is primarily local as well as global investors, taking
an active allocation in the names prior to their index
inclusions and given the lack of liquidity in some of these
names, this has led to the significant rally in prices," said
Rami Jamal, portfolio manager at Amwal in Doha. 
    Qatar International Islamic Bank rose 1.4 percent.
On Monday, the lender's shareholders also approved an increase
in its foreign ownership limit to 49 percent from 25 percent.   
    Saudi Arabia's index added 1 percent with Al Rajhi
Bank gaining 2.3 percent and National Commercial Bank
, the country's largest lender, rising 2.9 percent. 
    Kingdom Holding and Saudi Telecom rose
as they benefited from Uber's deal to buy Middle East's Careem. 
    Kingdom Holding increased 0.7 percent after selling its
stake in the ride-hailing app for 1.25 billion riyals  ($333.31
million), while Saudi Telecom rose 0.4 percent after saying it
expects to receive around $274 million from the deal.
    Last week, Saudi entered FTSE Russell's emerging-market
index, and this year will join the MSCI emerging market
benchmark.
    Foreign investors in the Saudi market seem to have increased
again as the first phase of its inclusion appeared to go
seamlessly and as foreign investor concerns over locals
oversupplying the market appear to have partially abated, Arqaam
Capital said. 
    The Egyptian blue-chip index dropped 0.6 percent,
led by a 2.2 percent decline in Egypt's largest lender
Commercial International Bank and a 4.5 percent fall
in El Sewedy Electric. 
    Global Telecom Holding fell 3.1 percent. The
telecom operator said its board extended maturity of its $100
million revolving credit facility from VEON. 
    Madinet Nasr slipped 2.8 percent. The firm
approved the sale of its non-residential land plot for 184.8
million Egyptian pounds ($10.69 million).
    The Abu Dhabi index slipped 0.3 percent with the
country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank losing
0.8 percent and Emirates Telecommunications Group
dropping 0.2 percent.
    Dubai's index was flat, with its largest
listed-developer Emaar Properties sliding 1.7 percent.
    
 SAUDI ARABIA  The index         was up 1 pct at 8,766 points
 ABU DHABI     The index        fell 0.3 pct to 5,109 points
 DUBAI         The index          was flat at 2,614 points
 QATAR         The index        gained 1.7 pct to 10,105 points
 EGYPT         The index          was down 0.6 pct at 14,555
               points
 KUWAIT        The index        rose 0.9 pct to 5,951 points
 OMAN          The index        edged down 0.1 pct to 4,047
               points
 BAHRAIN       The index        added 0.4 pct to 1,413 points
 
($1 = 3.7503 riyals)

($1 = 17.2800 Egyptian pounds)

 (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru
Editing by Gareth Jones)
  
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