March 24, 2020 / 8:23 AM / 11 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets mostly rebound, tracking oil, Asian shares

March 24 (Reuters) - Stock markets in the Middle East rebounded on Tuesday, in line with oil prices and Asian shares as investors bet the U.S Federal Reserve’s promise of unlimited dollar funding would ease intense strains in financial markets.

In its latest mould-breaking step, the Fed offered to buy unlimited amounts of assets to steady markets and expanded its mandate to corporate and municipal bonds.

Brent crude oil rose by 62 cents, or 2.3%, to $27.65 a barrel by 0346 GMT.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index gained 2.7%, driven by a 3.3% rise in oil giant Saudi Aramco and a 2.1% increase in Al Rajhi Bank.

The kingdom’s central bank on Monday announced it will provide financing for micro, small and medium enterprises amounting to 13.3 billion riyals ($3.54 billion), Reuters reported citing state TV El Akhbariya.

In Dubai, the index added 0.9%, with blue-chip developer Emaar Properties climbing 6.4% and Emirates NBD Bank gaining 2.1%.

On Sunday, the United Arab Emirates had approved an additional 16 billion dirhams ($4.36 billion) for a total stimulus package of 126 billion dirhams to counter the coronavirus outbreak, the country’s vice president tweeted after a cabinet meeting.

However, stockmarket gains were capped by losses at the UAE’s only listed airline Air Arabia, which was down 3.5%.

The country, an air hub, said it would halt all passenger and transit flights for two weeks, state news agency WAM said. Cargo operations continue.

UAE reported 45 new cases among Western, Arab and Asian nationalities, taking its total to 198.

The Abu Dhabi index advanced 3.9%, boosted by a 6.5% jump in telecoms firm Etisalat and a 3.7% gain in First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Qatar’s index was up 1.9%, as Qatar Islamic Bank gained 4.4%.

Last week, the country announced measures to support the economy including providing 75 billion riyals ($20.60 billion) in financial incentives to the private sector.

$1 = 3.7575 riyals $1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham $1 = 3.6400 Qatar riyals Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Susan Fenton

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