March 15, 2017 / 8:08 AM / 10 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Most Gulf markets edge up in quiet, early trade

DUBAI, March 15 (Reuters) - Most Gulf stock markets edged up in early trade on Wednesday ahead of an expected U.S. interest rate hike later in the day, though concern that U.S. monetary authorities could signal further hikes down the road kept trading volume moderate.

Saudi Arabia’s index climbed 0.4 percent with most banks rising after credit rating agency Moody’s raised its outlook for the Saudi banking system to “stable” from “negative”, predicting liquidity and funding conditions would improve.

Al Jazira Bank gained 1.4 percent and electronics retailer United Electronics jumped 5.3 percent. Petrochemical firm Yansab fell 1.8 percent as it went ex-dividend.

In Dubai, the index rose 0.1 percent as Shuaa Capital added 2.2 percent and GFH Financial was flat. Late on Tuesday, GFH confirmed that it was in talks on a possible merger with Shuaa, although Shuaa has still not issued any statement.

District cooling firm Tabreed fell 2.1 percent as it went ex-dividend.

In Bahrain, Khaleeji Commercial Bank surged 4.5 percent in very thin trade after it said its annual general meeting had approved a listing of the bank on Dubai’s stock market, which could dramatically improve liquidity in the shares while benefiting shareholders including GFH and Shuaa.

GFH has previously declared its intention to list Khaleeji Commercial, and Wednesday’s statement did not give a time frame. It said GFH would raise its stake in the bank to 55.38 percent from 46.97 percent by acquiring shares owned by Emirates Islamic Bank.

Qatar’s index edged down 0.1 percent as Mazaya Qatar Real Estate Development sank 4.5 percent after saying annual net profit fell to 74.6 million riyals ($20.5 million) from 112.7 million riyals in the previous year. (Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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