April 17, 2018 / 2:00 PM / 6 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi index holds above 8,000 points, telcos boost Egypt

* Saudi index at highest level since August 2015

* SABIC jumps ahead of trading ex-dividend on Wednesday

* First Abu Dhabi Bank pulls up index

* Dubai closes down as ex-dividend Aramex slips

* Egypt’s GB Auto, Domty surge on corporate news

By Marwa Rashad

RIYADH, April 17 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s stock market continued a strong uptrend on Tuesday on the back of petrochemical and banking stocks, while rising telecoms shares boosted Egypt.

The Saudi index closed 0.6 percent up at 8,096 points, having finished above 8,000 points on Monday for the first time since August 2015.

Petrochemicals giant Saudi Basic Industries rose 1.9 percent before going ex-dividend on Wednesday. Al Rajhi Bank , meanwhile, gained 0.8 percent.

Exchange data showed that foreign investors bought a net $206 million of Saudi stocks last week, attracted by rising oil prices and the potential decision by MSCI in June to include the kingdom in its emerging market index.

“Higher oil prices are the main driver for the Saudi market — people are optimistic over prices going up further in coming months,” said Mazen al-Sudairi, head of research at Rajhi Capital.

However, Saudi stocks are on average trading at 17.4 times last year’s earnings, compared with 16 times for FTSE emerging markets, he added, warning that this increased the chances of a pull-back in the coming weeks.

Real estate company Arriyadh Development lost 4 percent after reporting almost flat net profit for the first quarter.

The Abu Dhabi index rose 0.5 percent on a 1.2 percent increase for First Abu Dhabi Bank. Aldar Properties added 1 percent after it announced a 10 billion dirham ($2.7 billion) plan to enhance its Alghadeer project close to the Abu Dhabi-Dubai border.

Dubai’s index lost 0.3 percent on a 3.3 percent decline by courier firm Aramex as it traded ex-dividend. Property developer Emaar lost 0.5 percent.

In Egypt, the index jumped 1 percent. Global Telecom surged 4.7 percent and Telecom Egypt added 5.4 percent while Commercial International Bank rose 1.2 percent.

GB Auto surged 4.5 percent after its board gave initial approval for a mergeer with R.G. Investment at book value. Food company Domty gained 1.9 percent after it said it had swung to a consolidated net profit in the first quarter from a loss in the corresponding period last year.

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index gained 0.6 percent to 8,096 points.

DUBAI

* The index dropped 0.3 percent to 3,131 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index rose 0.5 percent to 4,707 points.

QATAR

* The index edged up 0.03 percent to 8,958 points.

KUWAIT

* The index gained 0.1 percent to 4,782 points

EGYPT

* The index rose 1.0 percent to 17,802 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index added 0.2 percent to 1,302 points.

OMAN

* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 4,769 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia Editing by David Goodman)

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