Edition:
India

Shakeel Ahmad

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)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi inches up after index inclusion, Egypt hits 3-month low

19 Mar 2019

* Saudi's Alhokair gains after Arqaam upgrade * Egypt suffers biggest intraday loss this year * 29 of Egypt's 30 blue-chip stocks decline * Qatar Navigation slides on going ex-dividend By Shakeel Ahmad March 19 Saudi Arabia's stock index edged up on Tuesday after touching a near-four year high on Monday, which was its first day as a member of FTSE Russell's emerging-market index. Egypt's blue-chip index, meanwhile, was pulled down by a wide sell-off to its biggest intra-day loss this year. Saudi's Tadawul index will have a weighting of 2.9 percent in the FTSE Emerging All Cap Index and later this year will join the MSCI emerging market benchmark. The market is positioned for passive fund inflows of around $20 billion. Saudi Arabia's listed companies could see holdings by foreign investors rise to 10 percent when shares are included in index providers MSCI and FTSE's emerging markets indices, Tadawul's Chief Executive told Reuters. Saudi's index edged up 0.1 percent with Abdullah Abdul Mohsin Al Khodari Sons surging 10 percent. The stock has jumped in the last four sessions after shareholders voted against the dissolution of the company. Retailer Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair climbed 2.2 percent to 24 riyals after Arqaam Capital upgraded the stock to "buy" and raised its price target to 28 riyals. Arqaam also said it expects Saudi retailers to post strong numbers in the second half of the year with strong topline growth driving margin expansion. Egypt's blue-chip index fell 1.8 percent to its biggest intraday loss this year with 29 of its 30 stocks declining. The two stocks with the most weightage on the index slid considerably, Commercial International Bank slipping 1.8 percent and Global Telecom declining 5.8 percent. The latter said it was still working with the Egyptian Tax Authority to resolve its outstanding tax issues. In Dubai, the index was up 0.8 percent, rising for a third straight session with most gains coming from its real estate and bank shares. The emirate's largest lender Emirates NBD rose 1.5 percent. Emaar Properties added 2.1 percent in active trade and DAMAC Properties increased 1.4 percent. "We are selectively positive on UAE real estate" despite a challenging market in 2019, Arqaam Capital said, adding that a key catalyst for UAE's real estate is GCC investors rotating out of Saudi Arabia around the MSCI index events, as well as near-term dividend announcements. The Abu Dhabi index was up 0.3 percent lifted by financial stocks with First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) FAB.AD, the United Arab Emirates' largest lender, trading 0.3 percent higher. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank added 2 percent ahead of going ex-dividend on Thursday. Shareholders buying the stock before that day will be entitled to a full-year dividend which the board proposed at 27.4 percent of its share capital. Qatar's index was down 0.2 percent, hurt by banking sector stocks with Middle East's biggest lender Qatar National Bank shedding 1.2 percent. Marine transport company Qatar Navigation dived 6.2 percent as it traded ex-dividend. ($1 = 3.7502 riyals) SAUDI The index edged up 0.1 pct to 8,659 ARABIA points ABU DHABI The index was up 0.3 pct at 5,079 points DUBAI The index rose 0.8 pct to 2,641 points QATAR The index was down 0.2 pct at 9,957 points EGYPT The index fell 1.8 pct to 14,646 points KUWAIT The index rose 1.1 pct to 5,750 points OMAN The index rose 0.7 pct to 4,156 points BAHRAIN The index rose 0.5 pct to 1,420 points (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi closes at near 4-year high as it joins FTSE Russell index

18 Mar 2019

* Saudi also records best one-day intraday gain since Feb 5 * All Saudi banks gain * 159.2 mln Saudi shares traded for 3.6 bln riyals * Abu Dhabi's Dana Gas adds on share buyback plan By Shakeel Ahmad and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan March 18 Saudi Arabia's benchmark stock index closed at its highest in nearly four years on Monday as bank shares rose on its first day as a member of FTSE Russell's emerging-market index, which is expected to attract billions in passive fund inflows. Saudi's Tadawul index will have a weighting of 2.9 percent in the FTSE Emerging All Cap Index and later this year will join the MSCI emerging market benchmark. The market is positioned for passive fund inflows of around $20 billion. The kingdom is hoping its inclusion in the indexes will fuel its drive to become a major destination for foreign capital, after its global reputation was tainted by the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October. In the short term, the upside is limited since this was a well-flagged event, Al Mal MENA Equity Fund said in a note. In the long-term there are positive implications not just for the Saudi market but for the region as a whole. With foreigners, there will be more institutional participants who are research-driven and bringing more discipline to the market, the note added. Saudi Arabia's listed companies could see holdings by foreign investors rise to 10 percent when shares are included in index providers MSCI and FTSE's emerging markets indices, Tadawul's Chief Executive told Reuters. The index has gained 10 percent this year, outperforming its major Gulf peers, and foreigners have led the buying, with foreign investors now net buyers of 9.6 billion riyals of stocks year-to-date, Arqaam Capital said. Saudi's Tadawul index rose 1.1 percent with 159.2 million shares traded for a value of 3.6 billion riyals ($960 million). Al Rajhi Bank gained 0.8 percent and blue-chip petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC) added 1 percent. "We expect SABIC to see the biggest inflow of more than $110 million while Al Rajhi and National Commercial Bank are close behind," Nick Wilson, chairman of the Gulf Investment Fund Plc, said. Abdullah Abdul Mohsin Al Khodari Sons surged 10 percent. The stock has risen since shareholders voted against the dissolution of the company. The Abu Dhabi index rose 1.8 percent, lifted by a 3.2 percent rise in First Abu Dhabi Bank. International Holding climbed 5 percent after it called a shareholders' meeting to approve a capital increase by 1.31 billion dirhams ($357 million). Dana Gas gained 1.8 percent. On Sunday, the firm approved plans for a sukuk buyback and said it plans to seek approval to buy back 690 million shares. In Dubai, the index was up 1.6 percent with Dubai Islamic Bank gaining 3.2 percent. The emirate's largest listed developer, Emaar Properties, rose 2.2 percent after saying its board will meet on Wednesday to discuss the proposal for a full-year dividend. Marie Salem, director capital markets at FFA Private Bank Dubai, said foreigners are continuing to accumulate bank shares across the United Arab Emirates. Qatar's index increased 1.1 percent. Qatar Islamic Bank added 3 percent and the Middle East's largest lender, Qatar National Bank, rose 1.5 percent. Egypt's blue-chip index was down 0.8 percent with its major lender Commercial International Bank shedding 1.7 percent. ($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham) ($1 = 3.7502 riyals) SAUDI The index rose 1.1 pct to 8,653 points ARABIA ABU DHABI The index rose 1.8 pct to 5,067 points DUBAI The index gained 1.6 pct to 2,620 points QATAR The index rose 1.1 pct to 9,973 points EGYPT The index fell 0.8 pct to 14,911 points KUWAIT The index was up 0.3 pct to 5,689 points OMAN The index rose 1 pct to 4,128 points BAHRAIN The index edged up 0.2 pct to 1,413 points (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru and Saeed Azhar in Dubai; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Abu Dhabi hits multi-year peak, blue-chip banks lift Qatar

14 Mar 2019

* Abu Dhabi's FAB records best day in nearly 3 years * Qatar on track for best day since Aug 2018 * Dubai's DP World jumps on higher FY profit * Saudi's Al Khodari surges after dissolution voted down By Shakeel Ahmad and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan March 14 The Abu Dhabi stock market climbed sharply on Thursday for its biggest one-day gain in nearly three years while Qatar was lifted by its blue-chip banks to its best day in seven months. The Abu Dhabi index rose 3.7 percent. First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), the United Arab Emirates' biggest bank, surged 6.5 percent and Emirates Telecommunications added 5.2 percent. With FTSE and S&P index rebalancing ataking place across emerging markets on Thursday there were sizeable inflows into heavyweights First Abu Dhabi and Emirates Telecommunications, which account for about 70 percent of the Abu Dhabi index, said Mohamad Al Hajj, head of MENA equity strategy for EFG Hermes. Late last month FAB shareholders approved an increase in the limit of foreign ownership to 40 percent of its shares, up from 25 percent. FAB expects the MSCI to reflect the foreign ownership limit's increase during its May index review, Arqaam Capital said, adding that the brokerage expects about $615 million of inflows from MSCI and $275 million from FTSE. Qatar's index rose 2.1 percent, with Industries Qatar , the stock with the biggest weighting on the index, climbing 3 percent and Qatar Islamic Bank up 3.2 percent. The index is down 4.8 percent this year, lagging behind Gulf peers. This is in sharp contrast to last year, when the index was one of the world's best-performing markets after the raising of the limit on foreign ownership of Qatari stocks. Some analysts consider the market to be overvalued, with other regional markets offering better valuations. In Dubai, the index fell 1 percent. Dubai Islamic Bank lost 6.5 percent as the stock traded ex-dividend. Banks in the UAE are expected to suffer a rise in loan losses over the next 12 to 18 months as a decline in real estate prices and rising interest rates reduce borrowers' cashflows, according to Moody's. But DP World, the Dubai-Nasdaq listed port operator, climbed 6.2 percent in light trade after posting 2018 profit up 10.2 percent. Saudi Arabia's index was up 0.7 percent, with Al Rajhi Bank gaining 0.9 percent. Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC), the Middle East's largest petrochemicals maker, rose 1 percent after announcing on Wednesday that it will merge its Saudi Petrochemical Co and Arabian Petrochemical Co businesses. The deal, due to complete in the second half of the year, is part of SABIC's efforts to increase efficiency globally. Abdullah Abdul Mohsin Al Khodari Sons rose 10 percent after its shareholders voted down dissolution of the company and instead approved capital restructuring. Egypt's blue-chip index was down 0.9 percent, with Commercial International Bank shedding 1.9 percent and El Sewedy Electric slipping by 1.7 percent. The index has gained 15 percent so far this year, compared with an 8.8 percent gain for the MSCI's index of developing world stocks. SAUDI The index rose 0.7 pct to 8,583 points ARABIA ABU DHABI The index rose 3.7 pct to 4,998 points DUBAI The index fell 1 pct to 2,574 points QATAR The index rose 2.1 pct to 9,971 points EGYPT The index fell 0.9 pct to 14,991 points KUWAIT The index rose 1.2 pct to 5,667 points OMAN The index was flat at 4,075 points BAHRAIN The index fell 0.2 pct to 1,409 points (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru Editing by David Goodman)

MIDEAST STOCKS-Rising oil price boosts Saudi, top telecom firm weighs on Abu Dhabi

13 Mar 2019

* Ten of 12 Saudi banks gain * Arriyadh Development climbs on capital increase * SABIC gains after announcing merger of two units * Dubai's Aramex surges in heaviest volume in over 9 years By Shakeel Ahmad March 13 Saudi Arabia's stock market rose on Wednesday as banks and petrochemical shares gained amid rising oil prices, while Abu Dhabi was pulled down by Emirates Telecommunications. Saudi Arabia's index was up 1 percent, with Al Rajhi Bank gaining 0.9 percent. The Middle East's largest petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries (SABIC) also rose 1 percent in active trade after it said it will merge its units Saudi Petrochemical Co and Arabian Petrochemical Co. The deal, which will be completed during the second half of the year, is part of the firm's plan to increase efficiency in its global operations. The Saudi index is up 8.9 percent this year, outperforming major Gulf markets and led by foreign investors who have been net buyers of Saudi stocks every week this year. Foreign investors have already poured 6.94 billion riyals ($1.9 billion) into the Saudi market in the first two months of 2019. Foreign net buying in the Saudi market picked up in the first week of March, coming in at 985 million riyals, the highest since the week ending Jan. 17, Arqaam Capital said. Developer Arriyadh Development added 1.5 percent after the Capital Market Authority approved an increase in capital to 1.78 billion riyals, from 1.33 billion riyals, through a bonus share issue. The Abu Dhabi index was down 0.9 percent, with Emirates Telecommunications Group shedding 4.1 percent. United Arab Bank plunged 9.6 percent in light trade while Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank lost 2.4 percent. Banks in the UAE are expected to experience a rise in loan losses over the next 12 to 18 months as a decline in real estate prices and rising interest rates reduce borrowers' cashflows, according to Moody's. In Dubai, the index was flat, but courier firm Aramex surged 9.1 percent in its heaviest trading volume since December 2009 with 42.4 million shares changing hands, after the company said that Australia Post Transaction Services had sold its stake. Australia Post Transaction Services sold its 10 percent stake in the firm for 602.6 million dirhams ($164 million). Aramex caps foreign ownership of its shares at 49 percent and the stake sale has freed up a 10 percent stake for foreigners to potentially buy. Arqaam Capital said this was "an excellent time" to buy the stock. Egypt's blue chip index edged down 0.1 percent with El Sewedy Electric shedding 1.8 percent. Qatar's index was flat with Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding losing 3.2 percent. ($1 = 3.7502 riyals) ($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham) SAUDI The index rose 1 pct to 8,527 points ARABIA ABU DHABI The index fell 0.9 pct to 4,820 points DUBAI The index was flat at 2,600 points QATAR The index was flat at 9,762 points EGYPT The index fell 0.1 pct to 15,126 points KUWAIT The index was flat at 5,600 points OMAN The index fell 0.2 pct to 4,074 points BAHRAIN The index rose 0.4 percent to 1,411 points (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru Editing by Susan Fenton)

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