April 10, 2018 / 9:08 AM / 5 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar rises again in early trade, Gulf markets soft

DUBAI, April 10 (Reuters) - Qatar’s stock index kept rising on Tuesday after several blue-chip firms raised foreign ownership limits, though other Gulf markets were weak.

The Qatar index lifted 0.2 percent in early trade, building on a 1.8-percent gain on Monday. Qatar Electricity and Water Co was up 1.1 percent after gaining 3.5 percent in the previous session and Industries Qatar was 1.4 percent higher while Qatar Islamic Bank rose 0.4 percent.

The three companies said on Sunday that they were hiking their foreign ownership ceilings to 49 percent from 25 percent, starting on Monday. Qatar National Bank (QNB), the region’s biggest bank by assets, lost 0.4 in the first hours of trade.

The Saudi stock index edged down 0.3 percent in the first hour. Most shares in the energy and petrochemical sectors fell - PetroRabigh lost 0.3 percent and Saudi Kayan fell 1.1 percent in heavy trade.

National Commercial Bank, Saudi Arabia’s biggest lender, helped to offset losses with a 0.2 percent rise.

However, Rajhi Bank one of the lenders that attracted heavy interest after the Saudi market was upgraded to emerging market status, fell back 0.8 percent. Bank Aljazira also fell 1.8 percent in heavy trade.

In the United Arab Emirates, the Dubai market was helped by the real estate sector but was held back by Emirates NBD, Dubai’s largest lender, which fell 0.5 percent. The Dubai index edged up 0.1 percent as giant developer Emaar Properties gained 1.3 percent.

Abu Dhabi’s index edged up 0.5 percent. Dana Gas was flat in early trade after falls on Monday and Sunday, after it said it had received a new injunction from the English High Court restricting its ability to pay dividends or increase its debt.

Dana said it would challenge the order, which was the result of its dispute with creditors over whether it must redeem $700 million of Islamic bonds.

Aldar Properties was down 0.5 percent for the second day in a row but Abu Dhabi National Energy company gained 2.2 percent. (Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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