March 21, 2018 / 1:49 PM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Blue-chips lift Saudi, UAE's Aldar and Emaar climb

* Investors expect positive FTSE decision at end of the month

* Saudi Electricity falls on bigger than expected loss

* Joint venture could help Aldar and Emaar to cut costs

* Second Qatar exchange-traded fund lists

* Egypt’s SODIC surges after CI Capital lifts target price

By Marwa Rashad

RIYADH, March 21 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s stock market rose on Wednesday, lifted by its expected inclusion in the secondary FTSE emerging market index, while United Arab Emirates’ markets were boosted by its top two property companies.

The Saudi index gained 0.5 percent to close at 7,762 points, backed by leading stocks that investors expect to attract foreign funds if the FTSE upgrade is confirmed at the end of this month.

Al Rajhi Bank rose 1 percent, with the stock going ex-dividend on Monday. National Commercial Bank added 0.9 percent and miner Ma’aden gained 2.6 percent while retail play Jarir rose by 3.2 percent.

Saudi Electricity Co, however, fell by 4.2 percent after reporting a 5.5 billion riyal ($1.5 billion) loss for the fourth quarter. The company said shifting to IFRS accounting standards had affected its results, but gave no details.

The loss was bigger than forecasts from SICO Bahrain and NCB Capital of 878 million riyals and 1.58 billion riyals respectively.

“The Saudi market may stall around current levels for some time, facing technical resistance at 7,800 points and waiting for positive news that can move it up again, like the FTSE inclusion decision,” said Muhammad Faisal Potrik, head of research at Riyad Capital.

The index peaked this month at 7,839 points.

The Abu Dhabi index rose 0.9 percent, with Aldar Properties adding 2.8 percent after the company said it had signed a joint venture agreement with Dubai’s Emaar Properties to develop local and international projects worth as much as 30 billion dirhams ($8.2 billion).

Emaar rose 2.2 percent, lifting the Dubai index by 0.8 percent.

Neither company provided details of the venture’s likely impact on earnings, but the deal could help to cut costs and aid Aldar’s overseas expansion.

The Qatar index was down 1.2 percent, dragged lower by Qatar Gas Transport’s 6 percent drop as it went ex-dividend. The Al Rayan Qatar exchange-traded fund listed on Wednesday with initial assets exceeding $120 million. Focused on sharia-compliant stocks, it is Qatar’s second locally listed ETF. Amwal’s QE Index ETF, with assets of $40 million, also listed this month.

Egypt’s index closed 0.2 percent higher as real estate firm SODIC soared 10 percent to 24.11 Egyptian pounds. CI Capital raised its target price for the stock to 32 pounds.

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index rose 0.5 percent to 7,762 points.

DUBAI

* The index added 0.8 percent to 3,207 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index rose 0.9 percent to 4,567 points.

QATAR

* The index fell 1.2 percent to 8,873 points.

EGYPT

* The index rose 0.2 percent to 17,147 points.

KUWAIT

* The index fell 0.3 percent to 6,687 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index lost 0.3 percent to 1,336 points.

OMAN

* The index rose 0.3 percent to 4,796 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia and David Goodman)

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