October 2, 2016 / 8:26 AM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi Arabia, Qatar move little in thin trade

DUBAI, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Stock markets in Saudi Arabia and Qatar moved little in thin trade early on Sunday with most bourses in the region closed for the Islamic new year.

Global stock markets ended last week on a firm note while Brent oil for November delivery settled above $49 a barrel in response to OPEC’s deal to cut output.

But many analysts are uncertain whether the OPEC deal will be implemented effectively or result in any extended rise of oil prices, and after the Saudi government said last week that it was cutting civil service allowances, the main factor in that market is the damage to economic growth from austerity steps.

Government data released on Friday showed gross domestic product, adjusted for inflation, rose 1.4 percent from a year earlier in the second quarter of 2016, after growth of 1.5 percent in the first quarter.

That was only a marginal slowdown and suggested the Saudi economy was faring better than feared in the face of oil’s slump. But many analysts think the growth figures understate the blow from low oil prices and may eventually be revised lower, as Saudi GDP data has been in the past.

The Saudi stock index edged up 0.1 percent in the first 70 minutes on Sunday as some insurance shares, which had been beaten down in the market’s panicked response to the austerity measures early last week, rebounded; Saudi Arabian Cooperative Insurance surged 8.7 percent.

Petrochemical blue chip Saudi Basic Industries gained 0.9 percent, and National Industrialisation Co rose 0.8 percent after it said a subsidiary had obtained 6.96 billion riyals ($1.86 billion) of financing from banks.

But National Petrochemical sank 4.7 percent after it said a subsidiary would halt operations for 60 days because of maintenance and that the financial impact was not yet known.

Qatar’s index edged down 0.3 percent as Barwa Real Estate sank 1.0 percent.

Markets in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain were shut. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Keith Weir)

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