April 17, 2019 / 1:17 PM / 8 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Oil lifts most of Gulf, top lender weighs on Egypt

    * Saudi enjoys best day in over two months
    * 11 of 12 Saudi banks gain
    * Egypt's El Sewedy, Qalaa falls on exposure to Sudan
    * Dubai's property shares rise 

    By Shakeel Ahmad
    April 17 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's stock market rose on
Wednesday on the back of its banks as rising oil prices lifted
most major Gulf markets, while Egypt was partly dragged down by
its biggest lender Commercial International Bank
    Brent oil hit a 2019 high above $72 a barrel on Wednesday,
propelled by steady economic growth in China and a fall in U.S.
crude stocks. 
    Saudi's index rose 1.1 percent for its biggest
one-day gain in two and a half months, with 11 of its 12 banks
advancing. Al Rajhi Bank added 2.3 percent and the
kingdom's largest lender National Commercial Bank
gained 2.2 percent. 
    Saudi Arabia's banks are expected to report 7 percent higher
earnings for the first quarter, SICO Research said in a note. 
    The bourse has gained 17.9 percent so far this year as
foreign buyers rushed in ahead of and after its entry into the
FTSE Russell's emerging market index on March 18. Foreign
investors have been net buyers of Saudi stocks every week this
year.
    Riyad REIT gained 0.4 percent after it acquired a
40 percent stake in the leasehold interest of an office building
in the United States. The investment is expected to generate a
net yield of more than 8 percent for its shareholders, the
company said.
    Egypt's blue-chip index slipped 0.7 percent,
weighed down by a 1.1 percent drop in Commercial International
Bank and a 2.8 percent fall in El Sewedy Electric
.
    Following recent political upheaval in Sudan, El Sewedy said
its business exposure to Sudan amounted to around 1.1 percent of
its profit as of last year. 
    Qalaa Holdings also slid 1.1 percent after saying
that ongoing events in Sudan impacted its cement plant
operations for a day. 
    In Dubai, the index was up 0.8 percent as Dubai
Islamic Bank gained 1.2 percent.
    All real estate shares rose with blue-chip developer Emaar
Properties gaining 0.8 percent and DAMAC Properties
 climbing 3.1 percent.
    Dubai's Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for March came in at
57.6, a 10-month high reading, Al Mal Capital said in a note.
    The improvement in non-oil business activity was led by the
travel and tourism industry and wholesale and retail. But the
construction industry was the weakest in 28 months as new orders
subsided, the note said.
    Growth in the United Arab Emirates' non-oil sector picked up
in March after slowing to a 28-month low last month, a survey
showed on Sunday.
    The Abu Dhabi index was up 0.5 percent with energy
firm Dana Gas adding 2.9 percent and market
heavyweight First Abu Dhabi Bank increasing 0.6
percent.
    Last week, the bank obtained regulatory approval to increase
its foreign ownership limit to 40 percent from a previous limit
of 25 percent.
    Qatar's index also gained 0.5 percent with
petrochemical shares increasing. Industries Qatar was
up 1.2 percent while Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding
traded 4.5 percent higher.
    
 SAUDI       The index         rose 1.1 pct to 9,238 points
 ARABIA      
 ABU DHABI   The index        was up 0.5 pct at 5,237 points
 DUBAI       The index          rose 0.8 pct to 2,813 points
 QATAR       The index        was up 0.5 pct at 10,308 points
 EGYPT       The index          fell 0.7 pct to 14,864 points
 BAHRAIN     The index        edged up 0.1 pct at 1,445 points
 OMAN        The index        was down 0.2 pct to 3,977 points
 KUWAIT      The index        was down 0.1 pct to 6,175 points
 

 (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken
Ferris)
  
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