March 21, 2019 / 1:23 PM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi near-4 year high days after entering FTSE Russell index

    * Saudi index hits highest level since Aug 2015
    * Al Ahsa Development rises on merger update 
    * Barwa Real Estate slides on going ex-dividend
    * Egypt's SODIC gains after government contract 

    By Shakeel Ahmad
    March 21 (Reuters) - All of Saudi Arabia's banks rose on
Thursday, lifting its stock exchange to a near-four year high
following its inclusion in the FTSE Russell's emerging-market
index this week.
    Saudi's Tadawul index will have a weighting of 2.9
percent in the FTSE Emerging All Cap Index and this year will
join the MSCI emerging market benchmark. The market is
positioned for passive fund inflows of around $20 billion.

    Saudi Arabia's index was up 0.8 percent with Al Rajhi Bank
 and Riyad Bank gaining 2.2 percent each. 
    Al Ahsa Development climbed 2.9 percent after
providing an update on the acquisition of Salam Medical
Services.
    The Abu Dhabi index was up 0.6 percent with First Abu
Dhabi Bank and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB)
 adding 1.3 percent each. ADCB shareholders approved
its proposed merger with Union National Bank, which
traded flat.
    In Dubai, the index fell 0.6 percent after four
straight days of gains, with DAMAC Properties losing
2.8 percent.
    Blue-chip developer Emaar Properties decreased 1.5
percent. Its board proposed a full-year dividend of 15 fils a
share.
    Arqaam Capital said it expected flat dividends of 15 fils
per share from Emaar Properties and 11 fils per share from its
unit Emaar Malls, adding that the brokerage is "selectively
positive" on UAE real estate despite a challenging market in
2019.
    But the emirate's largest bank, Emirates NBD,
gained 1 percent. It listed a $1 billion conventional bond on
Nasdaq Dubai. 
    Network International Holdings, the largest payment
processing company in Africa and the Middle East, said it
intends to float on the London stock exchange.
    The Dubai-based company is jointly owned by Emirates NBD and
private equity firms Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic.
    Qatar's index was down 0.2 percent with Barwa Real
Estate plunging 7.3 percent and Commercial Bank
 losing 0.6 percent as the stocks traded ex-dividend.
    Egypt's blue-chip index was up 0.4 percent.
    Developer Sixth of October Development and Investment
(SODIC) climbed 4.7 percent after it signed a contract
with the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA).
    The value for project will be about 43 billion Egyptian
pounds  ($2.49 billion), of which the NUCA will receive up to
15.3 billion Egyptian pounds over 11 years. The firm said the
project will be floated in the fourth quarter. 
    Kuwait's premier index rose 1.3 percent with market
heavyweight Kuwait Finance House adding 3.7 percent.
The stock has risen in the last three sessions after its
chairman said the due diligence process to buy Bahrain's Ahli
United Bank may conclude in two to three months. Ahli
United was up 1.2 percent. 
    
($1 = 17.2550 Egyptian pounds)  
 SAUDI       The index         rose 0.8 pct to 8,709 points
 ARABIA      
 ABU DHABI   The index        rose 0.6 pct to 5,127 points
 DUBAI       The index          fell 0.6 pct to 2,629 points
 QATAR       The index        was down 0.2 pct at 9,954 points
 EGYPT       The index          rose 0.4 pct to 14,783 points
 KUWAIT      The index        rose 1.3 pct to 5,890 points
 OMAN        The index        fell 0.2 pct to 4,153 points
 BAHRAIN     The index        was up 0.2 pct at 1,426 points
 

($1 = 17.2550 Egyptian pounds)

 (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru)
  
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