Edition:
India

Shakeel Ahmad

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi, Qatar lead Gulf markets higher after Eid holidays

10 Jun 2019

* 11 of 12 Saudi banks climb * Qatar National Bank, Qatar Islamic Bank rise ahead of stock split * All but one of Dubai's property stocks increase * 27 of 30 Egyptian blue chips gain By Shakeel Ahmad June 10 All major Gulf markets performed strongly on Monday after last week's holidays as a global rally lifted regional sentiment, with Saudi and Qatar outperforming and boosted respectively by expected foreign fund inflows and a stock split. "All MENA markets have come back strong from the Eid break. The Global lead has been positive but the local factors are also supportive," said Vrajesh Bhandari, senior portfolio manager at Al Mal Capital. Saudi's index rose 1.7% with its largest lender National Commercial Bank jumping 3.6% and biggest petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries adding 2.6%. The index has gained over 12% year-to-date in a rally led by foreign investors, who have been net buyers of Saudi stocks every month this year. Saudi stock exchange data released late on Sunday showed foreigners bought a net 17.62 billion riyals ($4.70 billion) of Saudi stocks last month. A third tranche of the FTSE Russell emerging market index will kick in this month after Saudi stocks were included in two tranches in March and April. "Investors are again repositioning for the FTSE flows in Saudi," added Bhandari. Late last month the Saudi equity market joined the MSCI Emerging Market index, which is expected to trigger billions of dollars of foreign fund inflows. Qatar's index rose 2% with banks leading gains in 18 of its 20 stocks. The Middle East's largest lender Qatar National Bank climbed 3.8% and Qatar Islamic Bank was up 2.3% ahead of a split of their stocks taking effect later this week. "Qatar is sharply ahead on local retail accumulation as we go through the 1:10 stock split," said Bhandari. A 10-to-one stock split for companies on the exchange is being phased in from June 9, aiming to boost liquidity by encouraging smaller investors to buy shares. In Dubai, real estate stock pushed the index up 0.9%. The emirate's blue-chip developer Emaar Properties rose 1.6% and its unit Emaar Malls increased 4.3%. Dubai Islamic Bank also traded 1.6% higher after its board recommended acquisition of the private lender Noor Bank. Abu Dhabi's index was up 0.8%, lifted by Aldar Properties, which rose 2.8%, and First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) FAB.AD, which increased 1.5%. The lender fell 1.2% in the last session after the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority said it had imposed additional measures to restrict First Abu Dhabi's business in the Gulf state. Egypt's blue-chip index rose, with 27 of its 30 stocks gaining and the country's largest lender Commercial International Bank adding 1.9%. Global Telecom was up 1.1% after the company on Sunday announced it had postponed its shareholder meeting to provide more time for investors to consider the mandatory tender offer submitted by major shareholder VEON. ($1 = 3.7501 riyals) SAUDI The index increased 1.7% to 8,849 points ARABIA ABU DHABI The index was up 0.8% at 4,998 points DUBAI The index was up 0.9% at 2,675 points QATAR The index rose 2% to 10,504 points EGYPT The index gained 1.7% to 14,149 points BAHRAIN The index was up 0.4% at 1,451 points OMAN The index was up 0.5% at 3,973 points KUWAIT The index climbed 1.1% to 6,439 points (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi rises to its best day in 7 months, leading Gulf rally

28 May 2019

* MSCI's top Saudi stocks rise * Saudi's Al-Etihad Cooperative gains after ban lifted * Qatar's Mesaieed Petrochemical rise ahead of MSCI entry * Dubai's Arabtec up after unit wins construction deal By Shakeel Ahmad May 28 Saudi Arabia's stock market rose sharply on Tuesday ahead of its introduction into the MSCI emerging markets index after this session's close, while all major Gulf bourses rallied. Saudi's index rose 2% for its biggest single-day gain since October 2018. Al Rajhi Bank increased 2.1% and petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries added 2%. The two stocks will be among the largest additions to the MSCI emerging markets index measured by full company market capitalization. MSCI said this month it would include MSCI Saudi Arabia in its emerging-markets index, effective from Tuesday's close, a move that could draw billions of dollars into the market. Al-Etihad Cooperative Insurance rose 2.1% after the regulator lifted the ban on new vehicle insurance subscriptions. Saudi Steel Pipes jumped 5.9%. It had surged 10% on Monday after saying its accumulated losses were reduced to zero as of December 2018. The Qatari index rose 1.2% with blue-chip lender, Qatar National Bank, adding 1.8%. Petrochemical maker Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding rose 2.9%. The stock has risen in most recent sessions after MSCI decided to include the stock in its emerging market index. Qatar's stock exchange is developing two new Exchange Traded Funds, part of efforts by the Middle East's strongest performing stock market in 2018 to boost foreign investment, Reuters reported last week, citing CEO Rashid al-Mansoori. Companies on Qatar's exchange in 2018 increased foreign ownership limits to 49%, most of which had previously been set at 25%, attracting a flood of cash that helped boost the main index by more than 20% last year. "Now the minimum will be 49% for all Qatari companies ... this will attract more liquidity and more room for foreign investors to invest," said Mansoori. In Dubai, the index was up 1.2%, led higher by real estate stocks. Major developer Emaar Properties traded 4.2% higher while its unit Emaar Malls closed 4.9% up in heavy trade. The stock exchange data showed that native investors supported the rise while foreigners were the net sellers. Arabtec Holding rose 4.8% after its unit Target Engineering won a construction contract for 192 million dirhams ($52.28 million). Egypt's blue-chip index closed 0.5% higher with Alexandria Mineral Oils surging 6.8% after its board last week approved launching a study for the second phase of a heavy refining project to extract high economic-value products. The Abu Dhabi index was also up 0.3%, with Dana Gas gaining 4.5.% and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank climbing 3%. ($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham) SAUDI The index added 2% to 8,551 points ARABIA ABU DHABI The index was up 0.3% to 4,791 points DUBAI The index rose 1.2% to 2,607 points QATAR The index rose 1.2% to 9,896 points EGYPT The index was up 0.5% at 14,028 points BAHRAIN The index gained 1% to 1,428 points OMAN The index was up 1.4% at 3,919 points KUWAIT The index was up 1% at 6,154 points (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru Editing by Mark Heinrich)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Trade tensions, tanker attacks darken mood in Gulf markets

13 May 2019

* Saudi insurers among biggest fallers after weak Q1 results * Abu Dhabi suffers worst day in 3-1/2 years * Dubai in sharpest one-day decline in 3 years * 18 of 20 Qatari stocks slide By Shakeel Ahmad May 13 Dubai and Abu Dhabi stock markets suffered their biggest single-day decline in years on Monday after several commercial ships were attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. Saudi shares had their worst day since mid-October after Riyadh said two of its oil tankers were among the vessels hit in the attacks. Saudi Arabia's index declined 3.6%, with Al Rajhi Bank dropping 4.6% and petrochemical group Saudi Basic Industries falling 5.1%. The index is down nearly 10% since the start of May. Saudi Arabia said the two Saudi oil tankers were attacked off the coast of the UAE and said it was an attempt to undermine the security of crude supplies amid heightened U.S.-Iranian tensions. The UAE said on Sunday that four commercial vessels were sabotaged near Fujairah emirate, one of the world's largest bunkering hubs lying just outside the Strait of Hormuz, but did not say who was behind the attack or describe the nature of it. “The declines today in the Gulf markets reflect cautious sentiment amongst investors amid regional uncertainty," said Mihir Kapadia, chief executive, Sun Global Investments. "The sabotage attack of two Saudi oil tankers off the coast of the UAE has surprised investors who are already jittery due to rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China." Shares in National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (Bahri) dropped 3%, after trading and shipping sources said the Saudi vessels targeted were Bahri-owned very large crude carrier Amjad and crude tanker Al Marzoqah. Bahri did not respond to a request for comment. Insurance companies were among biggest fallers on the Saudi market. Gulf Union Cooperative Insurance and Salama Cooperative Insurance each fell 10% after they reported first-quarter losses, citing increased net claims. Vrajesh Bhandari, senior portfolio manager at Al Mal Capital, said Saudi Arabia has its own dynamics. With about 10% correction in large caps, we see it as a tactical opportunity to position for the first tranche of MSCI, he said. Saudi Arabia is due to be included in the MSCI index from later this month. The Dubai index was down 4% in the sharpest single-day decline since June, 2016 with 26 of 37 stocks falling and none rising. Financial and real estate stocks were hit the hardest. The emirate's largest listed developer, Emaar Properties, lost 5.9%, and its biggest bank, Emirates NBD, closed 3.6% lower. Bhandari said sentiment was weak and that investors would like to profits in stocks that have done well – such as Emirates NBD. "Overall, we expect markets to be volatile given seasonal factors - Ramadan and the summer. Global factors aren’t helping either," Bhandari added. Financials also pushed Abu Dhabi's index down 3.3%, its biggest one-day drop since January, 2016. First Abu Dhabi Bank, the UAE's biggest bank, shed 3.1% and Emirates Telecommunications Group dropped 5.7%. Qatar's index lost 1.9% with 18 of its 20 stocks declining. Market heavyweight Qatar National Bank decreased 2.8% while lender Masraf Al Rayan was down 3.1%. Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index fell 1.5% mirroring decline in emerging markets as concerns over U.S.-China trade dispute intensified. The country's top bank, Commercial International Bank and investment firm, Egypt Kuwait Holding, dropped 1.7% and 2.3%, respectively. SAUDI The index was down 3.6% at 8,367 points ARABIA ABU DHABI The index fell 3.3% to 4,929 points DUBAI The index lost 4% to 2,526 points QATAR The index slid 1.9% to 9,740 points EGYPT The index was down 1.5% to 13,905 points BAHRAIN The index was down 0.8 pct at 1,416 points OMAN The index slipped 0.7% to 3,840 points KUWAIT The index lost 1.4% to 6,079 points (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru and Saeed Azhar in Dubai. Editing by Jane Merriman)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Trade tensions, weak oil pressure most major Gulf markets

09 May 2019

* Saudi's Middle East Healthcare plunges on lower Q1 profit * Mall operator Arabian Centres to raise $747 mln in IPO * Egypt's Medinet Nasr gains on higher Q1 profit * Dubai's DP World slides after merger agreement By Shakeel Ahmad May 9 The Abu Dhabi and Dubai stock markets dropped sharply on Thursday, affected by global trade tensions and falling oil prices, which sent most Middle Eastern bourses sliding. The Abu Dhabi index fell 1.4 percent, declining for the sixth straight session, with Abu Dhabi National Hotels plunging 7.4 percent and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) sliding 5 percent. On Monday, Abu Dhabi National Hotels reported a 2.7 percent drop in first-quarter profit, while ADCB has been falling since it posted a 5 percent drop in first-quarter profit last week, blaming lower interest income and higher cost of funds. Globally, weak international equity markets due to trade tensions between the United States and China have also caused oil prices to drop, which played a role in Thursday's decline of UAE equities, Tariq Qaqish, managing director, asset management division, Mena Corp Financial Services said. At the same time, a few companies published weaker first-quarter results such as Taqa, which compounded "fragile investors confidence", Qaqish added. In Dubai, the index lost 1.5 percent, with the emirate's biggest lender Emirates NBD dropping 2.5 percent, while blue-chip developer Emaar Properties fell 2.8 percent. Deyaar Development traded 3.4 percent lower. It said last week its first-quarter net profit more than halved. Dubai's Nasdaq-listed DP World, one of the world's largest port operators, slid 4 percent. The firm agreed to buy Canadian marine terminal Fraser Surrey Docks from a Macquarie Group fund. Saudi's index was down 0.5 percent, with Middle East Healthcare plunging 9.6 percent after it reported a 83 percent slump in first-quarter profit and its board decided against a dividend payout for 2018. Dar Al Arkan Real Estate Development decreased 3.1 percent after reporting a drop in first-quarter profit due to lower property sales. Separately, Saudi mall operator Arabian Centres is set to raise as much as 2.8 billion riyals ($747 million) after pricing its initial public offering at the bottom of its indicative range, according to a company document. Qatar's index was down 1 percent with heavyweight stocks Qatar National Bank and Industries Qatar falling 2.4 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Egypt's blue-chip index was up 0.2 percent with El Sewedy Electric jumping 7.4 percent, rebounding from recent losses it suffered after going ex-dividend. Developer Medinet Nasr for Housing and Development rose 5.5 percent. On Wednesday it reported a near 5 percent rise in first-quarter profit. ($1 = 3.7501 riyals) SAUDI The index was down 0.5 pct at 8,857 points ARABIA ABU DHABI The index fell 1.4 pct to 5,053 points DUBAI The index lost 1.5 pct to 2,673 points QATAR The index slid 1 pct to 10,027 points EGYPT The index was up 0.2 pct to 14,060 points BAHRAIN The index was down 0.3 pct at 1,436 points OMAN The index dipped 0.3 pct at 3,863 points KUWAIT The index lost 1 pct to 6,303 points ($1 = 3.7502 riyals) (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Abu Dhabi hits 13-year high, most Gulf markets rise

18 Apr 2019

* Abu Dhabi's Aldar gains on foreign property ownership plan * FAB rises after foreign ownership limit hike * 10 of 12 Saudi banks slide * Qatar's QISB, Commercial Bank climb on higher Q1 profit By Shakeel Ahmad April 18 Abu Dhabi's stock market rose sharply on Thursday to reach its highest level in more than 13 years, partly lifted by top lender First Abu Dhabi Bank which has gained this week after regulatory approval to raise foreign ownership limit of its shares. The Abu Dhabi index rose 1.1 percent to its highest since December 2005 with First Abu Dhabi Bank increasing 1.5 percent. The bank has risen nearly 9 percent this week after obtaining regulatory approval last week to increase its foreign ownership limit to 40 percent from 25 percent. First Abu Dhabi "could see significant $620 million of inflows if the foreign ownership increase to 40 percent is implemented before the last 10 trading days of April," Arqaam Capital said in a note. Energy firm Dana Gas added 1.9 percent after shareholders approved a share buyback programme of up to 10 percent of its capital, and a capital increase to 6.99 billion dirhams ($1.90 billion) from 6.97 billion dirhams. Aldar Properties rose 3.3 percent after Abu Dhabi said it would now allow all foreigners to own land and property in investment areas on a freehold basis after making changes to its real estate law. The United Arab Emirates capital previously limited ownership largely to Emiratis and citizens of the neighbouring Gulf Cooperation Council states. Saudi Arabia's index was down 0.5 percent with 10 of its 12 banks sliding. Al Rajhi Bank slipped 0.8 percent while the Middle East's largest petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries shed 1.1 percent. Saudi Arabian Mining (Ma'aden) dropped 1 percent. Arqaam Capital initiated coverage on the stock with a "sell" rating with a target price of 44 riyals. Qatar's index was up 0.4 percent with Qatar Islamic Bank increasing 2.3 percent and Qatar Commercial Bank rising 2.4 percent. Qatar Islamic Bank and Qatar Commercial Bank posted 9.6 percent and 6.5 percent gains respectively in first-quarter net profits. Qatar National Bank, the Middle East's largest lender, climbed 1.1 percent. The lender said it issued $850 million in Formosa bonds aimed at diversifying funding from new markets. In Dubai, the index traded flat with Commercial Bank Of Dubai gaining 2.6 percent after its first-quarter net profit jumped more than 21 percent. Logistics firm Aramex on the other hand declined 1.4 percent as the stock traded ex-dividend. Egypt's blue-chip index edged up 0.1 percent with investment firm Egypt Kuwait Holding climbing 3.4 percent. Kuwait's premier index rose 1.1 percent with its biggest lender National Bank of Kuwait adding 1.2 percent. Earlier this week, it reported a 15.1 percent rise in first-quarter profit, helped by higher net interest income and lower provisioning charges, beating analysts' forecasts. ($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham) SAUDI The index fell 0.5 pct to 9,197 points ARABIA ABU DHABI The index rose 1.1 pct to 5,292 points DUBAI The index was flat at 2,814 points QATAR The index was up 0.4 pct at 10,348 points EGYPT The index was up 0.1 pct to 14,876 points BAHRAIN The index was up 0.1 pct to 1,446 points OMAN The index edged up 0.1 pct to 3,980 points KUWAIT The index rose 1.1 pct to 6,245 points (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru Editing by Peter Graff)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Oil lifts most of Gulf, top lender weighs on Egypt

17 Apr 2019

* Saudi enjoys best day in over two months * 11 of 12 Saudi banks gain * Egypt's El Sewedy, Qalaa falls on exposure to Sudan * Dubai's property shares rise By Shakeel Ahmad April 17 Saudi Arabia's stock market rose on Wednesday on the back of its banks as rising oil prices lifted most major Gulf markets, while Egypt was partly dragged down by its biggest lender Commercial International Bank Brent oil hit a 2019 high above $72 a barrel on Wednesday, propelled by steady economic growth in China and a fall in U.S. crude stocks. Saudi's index rose 1.1 percent for its biggest one-day gain in two and a half months, with 11 of its 12 banks advancing. Al Rajhi Bank added 2.3 percent and the kingdom's largest lender National Commercial Bank gained 2.2 percent. Saudi Arabia's banks are expected to report 7 percent higher earnings for the first quarter, SICO Research said in a note. The bourse has gained 17.9 percent so far this year as foreign buyers rushed in ahead of and after its entry into the FTSE Russell's emerging market index on March 18. Foreign investors have been net buyers of Saudi stocks every week this year. Riyad REIT gained 0.4 percent after it acquired a 40 percent stake in the leasehold interest of an office building in the United States. The investment is expected to generate a net yield of more than 8 percent for its shareholders, the company said. Egypt's blue-chip index slipped 0.7 percent, weighed down by a 1.1 percent drop in Commercial International Bank and a 2.8 percent fall in El Sewedy Electric . Following recent political upheaval in Sudan, El Sewedy said its business exposure to Sudan amounted to around 1.1 percent of its profit as of last year. Qalaa Holdings also slid 1.1 percent after saying that ongoing events in Sudan impacted its cement plant operations for a day. In Dubai, the index was up 0.8 percent as Dubai Islamic Bank gained 1.2 percent. All real estate shares rose with blue-chip developer Emaar Properties gaining 0.8 percent and DAMAC Properties climbing 3.1 percent. Dubai's Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for March came in at 57.6, a 10-month high reading, Al Mal Capital said in a note. The improvement in non-oil business activity was led by the travel and tourism industry and wholesale and retail. But the construction industry was the weakest in 28 months as new orders subsided, the note said. Growth in the United Arab Emirates' non-oil sector picked up in March after slowing to a 28-month low last month, a survey showed on Sunday. The Abu Dhabi index was up 0.5 percent with energy firm Dana Gas adding 2.9 percent and market heavyweight First Abu Dhabi Bank increasing 0.6 percent. Last week, the bank obtained regulatory approval to increase its foreign ownership limit to 40 percent from a previous limit of 25 percent. Qatar's index also gained 0.5 percent with petrochemical shares increasing. Industries Qatar was up 1.2 percent while Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding traded 4.5 percent higher. SAUDI The index rose 1.1 pct to 9,238 points ARABIA ABU DHABI The index was up 0.5 pct at 5,237 points DUBAI The index rose 0.8 pct to 2,813 points QATAR The index was up 0.5 pct at 10,308 points EGYPT The index fell 0.7 pct to 14,864 points BAHRAIN The index edged up 0.1 pct at 1,445 points OMAN The index was down 0.2 pct to 3,977 points KUWAIT The index was down 0.1 pct to 6,175 points (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Banks lead Saudi higher, while Egyptian shares see sell-off

16 Apr 2019

* Saudi's Alhokair gains on unit IPO plan * 25 of 30 stocks on Egypt's blue-chip index slide * Egypt's EKHO falls for 10th session * Abu Dhabi eases back from near 5-year high By Shakeel Ahmad April 16 Saudi Arabia's stock market rose on Tuesday as most of its banks gained, while a wide sell-off pulled down Egypt's blue-chip share index. Saudi Arabia's index was up 0.6 percent with Saudi Arabian Mining adding 3.8 percent and Alinma Bank gaining 3 percent. Retailer Fawaz Alhokair Group climbed 2.9 percent. Its unit, Arabian Centres, said it will this month launch what could be Saudi Arabia's largest initial public offering in five years, which it hopes will raise around $1 billion. Egypt's blue-chip index was down 0.6 percent, losing for a fourth straight day, with 25 of its 30 stocks sliding. Investment firm Egypt Kuwait Holding (EKHO) fell for a 10th straight session, closing 2.5 percent lower. The stock has been falling since CI Capital slashed its rating on the stock to "neutral" with a price target of $1.75. In Dubai, the index slipped 0.5 percent, weighed down by real estate shares. Emaar Properties dropped 2 percent while DAMAC Properties shed 1.5 percent. Expo 2020 Dubai, a global trade exhibition, is expected to add 122.6 billion dirhams ($33 billion) to the United Arab Emirates' economy between 2013 and 2031, according to an economic study conducted by consultancy EY. The event could help Dubai's sluggish economy, which grew 1.9 percent in 2018, the weakest pace since a 2009 property crash that triggered a debt crisis. Qatar's index was up 0.4 percent with blue-chip petrochemical maker Industries Qatar gaining 0.9 percent. Qatar Electricity And Water climbed 1.1 percent. On Monday, it said it aims to generate 40 percent of its profit from foreign investment arm Nebras Power. The Abu Dhabi index was down 0.2 percent, easing back from a near five-year high touched in the last session. Market heavyweight First Abu Dhabi Bank slipped 0.9 percent after rising to a record high in the previous session, following regulatory approval to increase its foreign ownership limit to 40 percent from a previous limit of 25 percent. United Arab Emirates-based payments and foreign exchange company Finablr plans to proceed with an initial public offer on the London Stock Exchange. Finablr is planning to raise $200 million from the sale of new shares, with some existing shares also being offered for sale. SAUDI The index rose 0.6 pct to 9,140 points ARABIA ABU DHABI The index was down 0.2 pct at 5,214 points DUBAI The index fell 0.5 pct to 2,792 points QATAR The index was up 0.4 pct at 10,259 points EGYPT The index fell 0.6 pct to 14,973 points BAHRAIN The index was up 0.1 pct at 1,443 points OMAN The index fell 0.7 pct to 3,985 points KUWAIT The index rose 0.8 pct to 6,182 points (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru; Editing by Susan Fenton)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Abu Dhabi hits near 5-year high, petchems lift Saudi

15 Apr 2019

* Saudi's Bank Albilad gains on higher Q1 profit * Qatar Electricity And Water slides on lower Q1 profit * Egypt blue-chip index falls for 3rd session By Shakeel Ahmad April 15 Abu Dhabi's stock market rose to a near five-year high on Monday, lifted by First Abu Dhabi Bank, while petrochemical stocks led gains on Saudi Arabia's main index. The Abu Dhabi index was up 0.9 percent after hitting its highest since May 2014. First Abu Dhabi Bank, the United Arab Emirates' largest lender, climbed 2.4 percent to 16 dirhams, touching an all-time high. Last week, the bank obtained regulatory approval to increase its foreign ownership limit to 40 percent from a previous limit of 25 percent. The Saudi index was up 0.4 percent with its top petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries gaining 1.1 percent and Riyad Bank advancing 2.1 percent. Bank Albilad rose 1.5 percent after its first-quarter net profit grew more than 23 percent. The bourse has gained 16 percent so far this year as foreign buyers rushed in ahead of and after its entry into the FTSE Russell's emerging market index on March 18. Foreign investors have been net buyers of Saudi stocks every week this year and bought 1.21 billion riyals ($322.64 million) of shares on a net basis in the last week, according to stock exchange data released late on Sunday. In Dubai, the index rose 0.6 percent, supported by a 5.3 percent gain in Dubai Investments and a 1.4 percent rise in Dubai Islamic Bank. The lender said that it regularly looks at expansion opportunities, including buying other financial institutions. The United Arab Emirates' largest sharia-compliant bank is in talks with shareholders of unlisted Noor Bank over a possible acquisition of the Dubai-based lender, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters last week. "We see the likelihood of a deal going through as high, driving the consolidation theme in UAE," Arqaam Capital said in a note. It said Noor was now the only unlisted bank in the UAE, following the merger of Abu Dhabi counterparts Al Hilal and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank. Qatar's index edged 0.1 percent lower, as Qatar Electricity And Water shed 2.4 percent after its first-quarter net profit fell nearly 22 percent. The company further said it aims to generate 40 percent of its profit from foreign investment arm Nebras Power over the next 10 years. Egypt's blue-chip index inched down 0.1 percent, slipping for the third straight session, with investment firm Egypt Kuwait Holding falling 1 percent. ($1 = 3.7503 riyals) SAUDI The index was up 0.4 pct to 9,088 points ARABIA ABU DHABI The index added 0.9 pct to 5,222 points DUBAI The index rose 0.6 pct to 2,805 points QATAR The index was down 0.1 pct at 10,222 points EGYPT The index was down 0.1 pct to 15,055 points BAHRAIN The index fell 0.3 pct to 1,441 points OMAN The index rose 0.5 pct to 4,012 points KUWAIT The index wa up 0.2 pct to 6,136 points (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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

21 Mar 2019

* 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 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)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Petrochemicals companies hold back Saudi as rival markets firm

20 Mar 2019

* Saudi's Riyad Bank slips as it goes ex-dividend * Savola Group slides on full-year loss * Six of seven banks gain in Qatar * Commercial Bank of Dubai rises on Arqaam upgrade By Shakeel Ahmad March 20 Saudi Arabia's stock market dropped on Wednesday as petrochemical companies slid amid falling oil prices while rival markets were mostly lifted by financial stocks. The Saudi index eased 0.2 percent from the multi-year closing high hit after it entered FTSE Russell's emerging-market index on Monday. The Middle East's largest petrochemicals producer Saudi Basic Industries slipped 0.3 percent and Riyad Bank shed 1.5 percent as the lender traded ex-dividend. Food products company Savola Group fell 2.1 percent after it swung to a full-year net loss, with the company citing an exceptional expense of 100.7 million riyals ($26.9 million) in 2018. Egypt's blue-chip index rose 0.5 percent after suffering this year's biggest one-day loss in the previous session. Heavyweight lender Commercial International Bank, which has the biggest weighting on the index, rose 1.8 percent and Qalaa Holdings added 1.7 percent. The Abu Dhabi index was up 0.4 percent, with First Abu Dhabi Bank and Emirates Telecommunications each gaining 0.8 percent. Ras Al Khaimah Ceramics, however, plunged 9.8 percent to its biggest intra-day loss in three years as it went ex-dividend. The Qatari index was up 0.2 percent as six of its seven banks rose, with the Middle East's biggest, Qatar National Bank, gaining 1.1 percent. Qatar Islamic Bank added 1.3 percent after completed issuance of a $750 million sukuk. In Dubai, the index edged up 0.1 percent. Emirates Integrated Telecommunications and Commercial Bank of Dubai jumped by 2.9 percent 2.7 percent repectively. Arqaam Capital upgraded the bank's stock to a "buy", forecasting 8 percent growth in earnings per share every year between 2018 and 2023. The Kuwait index rose 1.2 percent, with Kuwait Projects rising 4 percent. The company this week gained regulatory approval to increase its paid-up capital. ($1 = 3.7502 riyals) SAUDI The index fell 0.2 pct to 8,641 points ARABIA ABU DHABI The index rose 0.4 pct at 5,098 points DUBAI The index was up 0.1 pct to 2,644 points QATAR The index was up 0.2 pct at 9,977 points EGYPT The index rose 0.5 pct to 14,724 points KUWAIT The index rose 1.2 pct to 5,817 points OMAN The index edged up 0.1 pct to 4,162 points BAHRAIN The index rose 0.2 pct to 1,423 points (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru Editing by David Goodman)

World News

"Sea of black" Hong Kong protesters demand leader step down

Hundreds of thousands of people clogged the streets in central Hong Kong on Sunday dressed in black to demand the city's leader step down, a day after she suspended an extradition bill in a dramatic retreat following the most violent protests in decades.