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DUBAI, March 26 (Reuters) - Stock markets in the Gulf look set to consolidate on Sunday with few fresh incentives, although Saudi Arabia may be supported by progress on reforms that could help it join MSCI's emerging market index.
U.S. and European bourses closed Friday slightly lower while Brent oil continued to hold slightly above $50 a barrel.
The Saudi bourse said late on Thursday that it would extend the period for settling trades and introduce short-selling on April 23, reforms demanded by MSCI. The reforms had already been expected sometime in the second quarter but the date is positive as it will give MSCI time to evaluate their impact before deciding in June whether to put Riyadh on its review list.
However, if MSCI follows its normal schedule Riyadh would not join the index until mid-2019, so the prospect of inclusion may not boost the market much for now.
In Dubai, business magazine Arabian Business quoted sources as saying Emaar Malls was bidding up to $800 million to acquire Souq.com.
But Emaar Malls has not commented on the report and it is unclear whether any bid could supersede Amazon.com's agreement in principle, revealed last week, to buy the online retailer, so Emaar Malls shares may not move in response to the report.
In Saudi Arabia, shares in Arab Bank go ex-dividend on Sunday, which could pressure the price. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia)