September 28, 2017 / 8:06 AM / 10 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Banking shares support Saudi in early trade

DUBAI, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Banking shares helped take the Saudi index slightly higher in early trade on Thursday after news that the government has priced a $12.5 billion international bond issue, while the rest of the region was mixed.

The sovereign bond sale attracted around $40 billion and settlement is expected by Oct. 4, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Finance said.

The successful issue is good news for the banking sector because it will help to increase liquidity and gives the government financial room to move ahead with projects. Shares of majority state-owned National Commercial Bank were up 0.9 percent and Samba Financial Group rose 0.5 percent.

Roughly two-thirds of the insurance companies that had climbed on Wednesday, following news that women will start driving for the first time next year, fell back. Al Rajhi Co for Cooperative Insurance dropped 1.5 percent.

The Dubai index was up 0.1 percent with most activity focused on shares often traded by day traders; Union Properties rose 0.6 percent but builder Drake & Scull fell 0.5 percent.

In Abu Dhabi, the index was also up 0.1 percent; blue-chip developer Aldar Properties rose 1.7 percent.

Qatar’s index slipped 0.3 percent, weighed down by declines in most banking shares; the largest, Qatar National Bank, lost 0.6 percent. (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia and Toby Chopra)

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