May 6, 2018 / 8:09 AM / in a year

RPT-MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf moves in line with global stocks, Saudi petchems up on soaring oil

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DUBAI, May 6 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets opened in positive territory on Sunday, mirroring gains in global stocks late last week and boosted by soaring oil prices.

Weaker-than-expected jobs data in the United States eased worries about a potential acceleration in the pace of U.S interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve. This, combined with gains in tech shares such as Apple, gave support to U.S. stocks last Friday.

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

This gave support to Saudi petrochemical companies such as National Industrialization Company (Tasnee), Saudi Kayan Petrochemical and blue-chip Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), which were up 3.4 percent, 1.1 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

The worst performer in early trade was Saudi Industrial Services Co, down 3.9 percent after late last week it announced disappointing first quarter financial results, with Q1 net profit at 0.6 million riyals ($159,991.47)against 22.1 million riyals one year earlier.

The Saudi index was up 0.5 percent after one hour of trading.

In Dubai, the index was up 0.8 percent, lifted by gains from contractor Drake & Scull up 3.7 percent. The company’s shares dropped last week after investors sold on the news that it did not get approval to increase the company’s capital through the entry of a new strategic partner.

But Abu Dhabi investor Tabarak subsequently reassured investors saying in a statement it was committed to maintain its shareholding position in the company and to support it in securing new banking facilities and construction contracts.

The Abu Dhabi index was up 0.6 percent, with Arkan Building Materials up 5 percent after it reported a year-on-year increase in first quarter net profit last week, to 11.7 million dirhams ($3.19 million) from 10.6 million dirham one year earlier.

The Qatari index was up 0.8 percent, with Vodafone Qatar, by large the most traded stock, up 2.9 percent.

The company announced on Sunday it is preparing for the launch of 5G (5th generation wireless systems) services and it expects to implement them by the end of the year. ($1 = 3.7502 riyals) ($1 = 3.6730 UAE dirham) (Reporting by Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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