January 15, 2020 / 1:26 PM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Oman leads Gulf higher; Saudi bucks regional strength

    * Bank Muscat, Raysut Cement up on FY earnings 
    * Saudi snaps four-day winning streak
    * Aramco closes down, at 34.7 riyals
    * Tabreed gains on establishing new entity
    * Qatar Islamic Bank posts higher FY profit

    By Ateeq Shariff
    Jan 15 (Reuters) - Most Gulf bourses ended higher on
Wednesday, with Oman leading the gains, as robust company
earnings and an ease in geopolitical tensions lifted sentiment,
although weakness in financial shares weighed on the Saudi
index.
    Regional stocks had declined after the killing of an Iranian
commander by a U.S. drone strike and the launch of Iranian
missiles in retaliation, however, a de-escalation in tensions
has revived buying interest in Gulf equities. 
    Oman's blue-chip index, which traded after a
three-day break following the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said,
advanced 1.6%, marking its biggest one-day gain this month.
    Bank Muscat closed 2.8% higher, while Raysut
Cement rose 7.6%. Both of them reported a sharp rise
in their annual net profit. 
    Saudi Arabia's benchmark index retreated 0.5%,
ending a four-day winning streak. Al Rajhi Bank ticked
down 0.6%, while National Commercial Bank eased 0.8%.
    State-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco slipped 0.4% to
34.7 riyals.
    Earlier in the day, JP Morgan started coverage of the energy
giant with an "overweight" rating and a price target of 37
riyals ($9.86), a stronger recommendation than Goldman Sachs'
"neutral", Morgan Stanley's "underweight" and HSBC's "hold"
ratings.
    Dubai's main share index rose 0.5%, driven by a
0.9% gain in Dubai Islamic Bank and a 0.8% increase in
Emirates NBD.
    Amongst others, National Central Cooling Co (Tabreed)
 added 2.1% following establishment of a new entity to
consolidate its service businesses.
    In Abu Dhabi, the index reversed course to edge up
0.1%, as International Holding Company soared 9.6% and
Emirates Telecommunications advanced 0.5%.
    The Qatari index ended flat with banking stocks
moving sideways. Qatar Islamic Bank gained 1.8%.
After-market close, the sharia-compliant lender reported an
increase in full-year net profit.
    Qatar National Bank, the Gulf's biggest lender by
assets, was down 0.2%, even as it reported a rise in annual
profit. The bank posted a net profit of 14.4 billion riyals
($3.96 billion) in 2019, up from 13.8 billion riyals a year
earlier.
     Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index inched
up 0.1% as market heavyweight Commercial International Bank 
 added 0.6%.
    
 SAUDI ARABIA          fell 0.5% to 8,433 points
 ABU DHABI            edged up 0.1% to 5,174 points
 DUBAI                  added 0.5% to 2,818 points
 QATAR                traded flat at 10,635 points
 EGYPT                  up 0.1% to 13,770 points
 BAHRAIN              increased 1% to 1,636 points
 OMAN                 advanced 1.6% to 4,039 points
 KUWAIT               was up 0.4% at 7,090 points
 

($1 = 3.6400 Qatar riyals)

($1 = 3.7514 riyals)

 (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya
Soni)
  
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