May 28, 2019 / 1:22 PM / 6 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi rises to its best day in 7 months, leading Gulf rally

    * MSCI's top Saudi stocks rise 
    * Saudi's Al-Etihad Cooperative gains after ban lifted
    * Qatar's Mesaieed Petrochemical rise ahead of MSCI entry
    * Dubai's Arabtec up after unit wins construction deal

    By Shakeel Ahmad
    May 28 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's stock market rose sharply
on Tuesday ahead of its introduction into the MSCI emerging
markets index after this session's close, while all major Gulf
bourses rallied.
    Saudi's index rose 2% for its biggest single-day
gain since October 2018. Al Rajhi Bank increased 2.1%
and petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries added
    The two stocks will be among the largest additions to the
MSCI emerging markets index measured by full company market
    MSCI said this month it would include MSCI Saudi Arabia in
its emerging-markets index, effective from Tuesday's close, a
move that could draw billions of dollars into the market.

    Al-Etihad Cooperative Insurance rose 2.1% after
the regulator lifted the ban on new vehicle insurance
    Saudi Steel Pipes jumped 5.9%. It had surged 10%
on Monday after saying its accumulated losses were reduced to
zero as of December 2018.
    The Qatari index rose 1.2% with blue-chip lender,
Qatar National Bank, adding 1.8%.
    Petrochemical maker Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding
rose 2.9%. The stock has risen in most recent sessions after
MSCI decided to include the stock in its emerging market index. 
    Qatar's stock exchange is developing two new Exchange Traded
Funds, part of efforts by the Middle East's strongest performing
stock market in 2018 to boost foreign investment, Reuters
reported last week, citing CEO Rashid al-Mansoori.
    Companies on Qatar's exchange in 2018 increased foreign
ownership limits to 49%, most of which had previously been set
at 25%, attracting a flood of cash that helped boost the main
index by more than 20% last year.
    "Now the minimum will be 49% for all Qatari companies ...
this will attract more liquidity and more room for foreign
investors to invest," said Mansoori.
    In Dubai, the index was up 1.2%, led higher by real
estate stocks. Major developer Emaar Properties traded
4.2% higher while its unit Emaar Malls closed 4.9% up
in heavy trade.
    The stock exchange data showed that native investors
supported the rise while foreigners were the net sellers. 
    Arabtec Holding rose 4.8% after its unit Target
Engineering won a construction contract for 192 million dirhams 
($52.28 million).
    Egypt's blue-chip index closed 0.5% higher with 
Alexandria Mineral Oils surging 6.8% after its board
last week approved launching a study for the second phase of a
heavy refining project to extract high economic-value products.
    The Abu Dhabi index was also up 0.3%, with Dana Gas
 gaining 4.5.% and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank
climbing 3%.
($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham)
 SAUDI       The index         added 2% to 8,551 points
 ABU DHABI   The index        was up 0.3% to 4,791 points
 DUBAI       The index          rose 1.2% to 2,607 points
 QATAR       The index        rose 1.2% to 9,896 points
 EGYPT       The index          was up 0.5% at 14,028 points
 BAHRAIN     The index        gained 1% to 1,428 points
 OMAN        The index        was up 1.4% at 3,919 points
 KUWAIT      The index        was up 1% at 6,154 points
 (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru
Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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