September 25, 2017 / 5:53 AM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Robust oil may support Saudi petchems, region may follow Asia's downtrend

DUBAI, Sept 25 (Reuters) - The Saudi stock index may rise on Monday, after being shut for a national holiday on the previous day, as crude oil prices held near a six-month high, while other Gulf markets more susceptible to foreign flows may follow the downtrend in Asian shares.

Brent was trading at $56.80 a barrel in Asia, staying near a March high struck on Friday.

Petrochemical makers, that account for roughly one-quarter of Saudi Arabia’s total market value, benefit from the rise in oil prices as it supports the producers’ gross margins.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan handed back earlier modest gains and was last down 0.7 percent with losses across the regions weighing.

Rising political tension between North Korea and the United States, and concerns about China’s economy undermined investor sentiment.

The Qatari index, however, may hold onto the gains made over the last four sessions - or even extend them - as it starts to slowly recover from a steep slide due to the decision of four Arab states in June to cut ties with Doha.

Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Sunil Nair

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