May 6, 2018 / 1:25 PM / 17 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi petchems up on firmer oil, GFH shines in Bahrain

* Oil prices lift petchems in Saudi

* Bahrain’s GFH jumps on Saudi listing news

* Drake & Scull up after Tabarak reassures investors

* Dubai’s GGICO rallies after month of losses

* Vodafone Qatar boosts index

By Davide Barbuscia

DUBAI, May 6 (Reuters) - Most stock markets in the Gulf posted minor gains on Sunday, reflecting last week’s positive close in international stocks and on the back of firmer oil prices.

In Saudi Arabia, the benchmark index edged up 0.1 percent, lifted by gains in the petrochemical sector.

Oil prices last week hit their highest in more than three years, with Brent crude oil trading at $74.87 a barrel, as the market awaited news from Washington on possible new U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Saudi petrochemical companies such as National Industrialization Company (Tasnee), Saudi Industrial Investment Group and blue-chip Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), gained 3.1 percent, 3.0 percent and 0.8 percent respectively.

Outside of Saudi, Bahraini investment firm GFH Financial Group jumped 10.6 percent after announcing that it had hired Gulf International Bank to help it in its efforts to cross-list on the Saudi stock market.

The company also said it planned to raise its assets under management to $30 billion, from a current $6.2 billion, according to its website. An offer to sell all of the company’s real estate portfolio, also announced on Sunday, offered further support to the shares.

The Bahraini index rose 1.0 percent, benefiting from GFH’s gains.

The Dubai index rose 0.8 percent, lifted by a 4.6 percent gain in contractor Drake & Scull. The shares dropped last week on news that the firm had not got approval to increase its capital through the entry of a new strategic partner.

Abu Dhabi investor Tabarak, the largest shareholder in the Dubai-based contractor, reassured investors, saying in a statement last week that it was committed to maintaining its shareholding position in the company and to support it in securing new banking facilities and construction contracts.

The best performer in Dubai was Gulf General Investment Co (GGICO), which jumped 12.6 percent. The conglomerate is in talks with lenders to restructure loans and credit lines after defaulting on a debt repayment last year.

Last month its shareholders approved a plan to reduce capital to 586 million dirhams ($160 million) from 1.7 billion dirhams. Shares tumbled 9.8 percent when the capital reduction plans were initially announced in early April. After Sunday’s gains, GGICO’s stocks were still 2.7 percent below their value before that announcement.

The Abu Dhabi index posted a marginal gain of 0.1 percent, boosted by Arkan Building Materials, which jumped 11.7 percent after reporting a year-on-year increase in first quarter net profit last week, to 11.7 million dirham from 10.6 million dirham.

In Qatar, the index rose 1.2 percent as Vodafone Qatar, easily the most traded stock, gained 4 percent after announcing it was preparing to launch 5th generation (5G) services and expected to implement them by the end of the year.

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 8,114 points.

DUBAI

* The index gained 0.8 percent to 2,972 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index ticked up 0.1 percent to 4,560 points.

QATAR

* The index went up 1.2 percent to 9,908 points.

KUWAIT

* The index lost 0.2 percent to 4,784 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index gained 1.0 percent to 1,276 points.

OMAN

* The index shed 0.2 percent to 4,718 points.

EGYPT

* The index lost 1.2 percent to 17,611 points.

$1 = 3.6730 UAE dirham Reporting by Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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