July 4, 2019 / 7:52 AM / 2 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Oil prices fall weigh on most Gulf markets, Kuwait extends rally

July 4 (Reuters) - Most major gulf markets declined on Thursday amid sliding oil prices, while Kuwait continued its run of gains for the sixth straight session following MSCI’s decision to upgrade Kuwaiti equities to its main emerging markets index.

Oil prices fell on Thursday, weighed down by data showing a smaller-than-expected decline in U.S. crude stockpiles and worries about the global economy.

The Saudi index edged down 0.1% pressured by petrochemical and financial stocks. Saudi Basic Industries shed 0.4%, while National Commercial Bank was also down 0.4%.

The Abu Dhabi index lost 0.2%, weighed down by a 0.5% drop in the country’s largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank .

Qatar’s index decreased 0.3%, putting an end to a five-day winning streak. Commercial Bank dropped 1.3% and market heavyweight Industries Qatar fell 0.5%.

The index has been gaining in recent sessions as a 10-to-one stock split for companies on the exchange is being phased in from June 9 and will be completed by July 7. The move is designed to boost liquidity by encouraging smaller investors to buy shares.

In Dubai, the index edged up 0.1 with Emaar Properties gaining 0.7%.

Kuwait’s index added 0.3%. Last week, index compiler MSCI said it would move Kuwaiti equities to its main emerging markets index in 2020, a move that could trigger billions of dollars of inflows.

Kuwait has outperformed its Gulf peers in anticipation of the MSCI move, gaining over 23% in the year-to-date.

Middle Eastern funds plan to continue increasing their investments in Kuwait over the next three months, a Reuters poll found earlier this week. ($1 = 3.7502 riyals) (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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