February 12, 2019 / 8:31 AM / 2 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Banks lift Saudi, financials weigh on Abu Dhabi

Feb 12 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s stock market rose on Tuesday on the back of gains in banks amid recovering oil prices, while Abu Dhabi was pulled down by its financial shares.

Saudi Arabia’s index was up 0.3 percent with Al Rajhi Bank rising 1 percent and the largest petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries adding 0.7 percent.

The Saudi index has got off to a strong start this year, taking many by surprise, SICO Research said in a note, with a 10 percent gain year-to-date after returning 8.3 percent in 2018.

The recent rally has been led mainly by foreigners buying close to 4.4 billion riyals ($1.2 billion) through a qualified foreign investors’ scheme and swaps last month in anticipation of inflows after Saudi Arabia is included in the FTSE and MSCI emerging market indexes later this year, SICO added.

Tihama Advertising and Public Relations and Marketing Holding climbed 3.3 percent after it reported a higher third-quarter profit.

The Abu Dhabi index was down 0.5 percent with Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank shedding 1.9 percent and Abu Dhabi Aviation sliding 6.8 percent.

Abu Dhabi Aviation reported a full-year net profit attributable to shareholders of 231.4 million dirhams ($63 million), down from 243.6 million dirhams a year earlier.

Arkan Building Materials fell 5.4 percent after the company said it had sold its Emirates Cement Factory for 50 million dirhams.

In Dubai, the index edged down 0.1 percent with Dubai Investments dropping 2.7 percent.

The stock has been sliding since the firm said it had bought the 66 percent in GlobalPharma it did not already own, but did not disclose the purchase price. On Monday, the firm said the value of the deal was confidential and its disclosure was subject to GlobalPharma’s consent.

GFH Financial Group, which is mainly listed on the Bahrain stock exchange, plunged 9.8 percent. The firm reported fourth-quarter net profit attributable to shareholders of $10.6 million, down from $17 million a year ago.

The Qatar stock exchange was closed for a public holiday. ($1 = 3.7502 riyals) ($1 = 3.6726 UAE dirham) (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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