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MIDEAST STOCKS-Major Gulf markets rise in early trade

Nov 4 (Reuters) - Major stock markets in the Gulf traded higher on Wednesday, in line with Asia shares, as financial markets and oil prices rallied, with a closer-than-anticipated presidential race sparking volatility.

Asian shares and U.S. equity futures surged as the presidential election proved far closer than polls had predicted between incumbent Donald Trump and Democratic contender and wide favourite Joe Biden.

Crude prices rose above 2% and the move come ahead of data expected to show U.S. crude stockpiles rose 900,000 barrels last week after gaining 4.3 million barrels in the prior week.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index advanced 1.2%, buoyed mainly by gains in the financial stocks including National Commercial Bank, which advanced 2.3%, while oil behemoth Saudi Aramco firmed 0.9%.

On Tuesday, Aramco reported a 44.6% drop in third-quarter net profit as the coronavirus crisis continued to choke demand and weigh on crude prices.

However, the net profit was in line with analysts’ estimate provided by Refinitiv.

Dubai’s main share index gained 0.9%, led by a 1.3% rise in its largest lender Emirates NBD.

The bank confirmed on Tuesday it is in discussions with Lebanon’s Blom Bank regarding the potential acquisition of Blom Bank Egypt.

The Abu Dhabi index was up 0.7%, driven by a 1.2% rise in the country’s largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank .

In Qatar, the index increased 0.5%, with Qatar Fuel Co gaining 1.6%. (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff and Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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