August 6, 2018 / 8:14 AM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Energy stocks lift Abu Dhabi, Saudi, Qatar flat

DUBAI, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Firm oil prices boosted energy shares in the Abu Dhabi market and financials boosted Kuwaiti stocks on Monday, however the Gulf’s two star performers, Saudi and Qatari stocks, were little changed in the absence of major corporate or economic news.

Abu Dhabi index was up 1.4 percent, with Abu Dhabi National Energy Co up 1.7 percent. Dana Gas also rose 0.9 percent, fueled by higher oil prices.

Oil prices held firm on Monday after Saudi crude production registered a surprising dip in July and as American shale drilling appeared to plateau. Markets also expecting an announcement from Washington later on Monday on renewed U.S. sanctions against major oil exporter Iran.

Kuwait stocks were lifted by buying in banking stocks. National Bank of Kuwait climbed almost 1 percent and Kuwait Finance House also rose 1 percent.

HSBC raised the target price for National Bank of Kuwait to 0.93 dinars ($3.07), compared to its previous target price of 0.84 dinars. Shares of National Bank of Kuwait were last trading at 0.83 dinars.

Saudi and Qatari stocks were little changed as investors booked profit in key blue-chip stocks after recent gains.

Qatar has been the best performing market so far this year, recently edging out the Saudi market, in a rally that started after several Qatari companies raised limits on foreign ownership.

The rally was sustained by strong quarterly earnings, but investors were getting cautious on valuations for top blue-chip stocks.

On Monday, Industries Qatar was down 0.7 percent and Qatar National Bank, which is one of the best performing stocks on the Doha market, dropped 0.3 percent.

Qatar’s main index is still up 16 percent so far this year.

In Riyadh, Bupa Arabia for Cooperative Insurance Co , rose 1.6 percent, extending gains from a day earlier when it soared 10 percent after posting a second-quarter earnings.

$1 = 0.3028 Kuwaiti dinars Reporting by Saeed Azhar Editing by Keith Weir

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