May 13, 2018 / 2:54 PM / 12 days ago

Geopolitics turn foreign investors net sellers of Saudi stocks last week

DUBAI, May 13 (Reuters) - Foreign investors were net sellers of Saudi Arabian equities last week partly because of rising geopolitical tension, exchange data showed on Sunday.

In the week through last Thursday, foreigners sold about $33 million of stocks on a net basis. They bought $295 million and sold $327 million; it was only the second week this year that foreigners were net sellers.

Foreign portfolio funds have been flooding into Saudi Arabia before Riyadh’s expected inclusion in global emerging market indexes next year. Year-to-date, foreigners are net buyers of stocks to the tune of $2.7 biillion.

But geopolitics have become a major weight on Gulf stock markets. Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump said he was pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, and Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi forces fired ballistic missiles at Riyadh; Saudi authorities said they intercepted the missiles.

Buying and selling by indirect investors through swap agreements was roughly balanced last week. In a change from this year’s pattern, qualified foreign institutions (QFIs), which invest directly, were net sellers, suggesting the impact of a jump in the number of QFIs may have run its course for now. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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