July 7, 2019 / 7:15 AM / 17 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Kuwait extends gains on MSCI upgrade, Saudi up on banks

DUBAI, July 7 (Reuters) - Kuwait extended gains for the seven straight session on Sunday amid sustained investor interest after index compiler MSCI last month decided to upgrade Kuwaiti equities to its main emerging markets index in 2020.

Other Gulf markets were trading higher, albeit in a narrow range, supported by a rise in oil prices on Friday, aided by tensions over Iran and an extension to output cuts by OPEC and its allies.

Kuwait’s index rose 1.1% to 6,615 points, taking the index to a new high this year.

Last month, index compiler MSCI said it would move Kuwaiti equities to its main emerging markets index in 2020, a move that could trigger billions of dollars of inflows.

Banks were driving the rally with Kuwait Finance House up 1.5% and Warba Bank gaining nearly 2%.

The chief executive of Warba Bank told Reuters last week the bank is working to set up a sukuk, or Islamic bond, programme of up to $2 billion, with plans for an initial $500 million issuance this year.

Kuwait has outperformed its Gulf peers in anticipation of the MSCI move, gaining over 24% year-to-date.

The Saudi index was up nearly 0.1%, helped by gains in financials. Samba Financial Group was up 0.8% and Al Rajhi Bank gained 0.3%.

Shares of food company Almarai was down 0.2% after reporting a nearly 12% drop in quarterly net profit and the resignation of its Chief Executive Alois Hofbauer.

Dubai stocks were up 0.1%, but the biggest stock, Emaar Properties, was trading 0.5% lower, limiting broader market gains.

Reporting by Saeed Azhar Editing by Keith Weir

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