April 8, 2018 / 1:24 PM / in 7 months

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi up, Kuwait rebounds; new ownership caps lift some Qatar stocks

* Saudi stays positive after rebounding late last week

* Food company Almarai up on first-quarter results

* Several Qatar firms lift foreign ownership ceilings to 49 pct

* Kuwait bounces after a week of losses

* Gulf General Investment is worst performer in Dubai

By Davide Barbuscia

DUBAI, April 8 (Reuters) - The Saudi Arabian stock market remained in positive territory on Sunday after rebounding late last week from several days of profit-taking, while a pullback by two blue chips dragged down Abu Dhabi.

The Saudi stock index closed up 0.2 percent. Food and beverage company Almarai added 3.5 percent after announcing first-quarter net profit of 344 million riyals ($91.7 million) against 328 million riyals last year.

Loss-making home furnishings maker Al Sorayai Trading was the best performer, adding a further 10 percent after it jumped last week as its chief executive resigned.

Saudi Cement and City Cement Co. rose 8.3 percent and 3.4 percent respectively. Bank Aljazira was the strongest bank, gaining 3.5 percent after it said its rights issue of 300 million shares had been 90 percent subscribed at the end of the subscription period.

Exchange data released after the close on Sunday showed foreign investors bought a net $229 million of Saudi stocks last week, one of the highest totals this year despite a wave of profit-taking after FTSE Russell decided, as expected, to upgrade Saudi Arabia to emerging market status.

In Qatar, foreign ownership limits were formally amended for Industries Qatar, Qatar Industrial Manufacturing , Qatar Islamic Bank and Qatar Electricity and Water; the ceilings will rise to 49 percent as of Monday. This may ultimately boost the stocks’ weightings in emerging market indexes.

Qatar Electricity and Water was up 0.8 percent and Qatar Industrial Manufacturing gained 0.3 percent, but the news, which had been anticipated, failed to support Industries Qatar, which shed 0.7 percent, and Qatar Islamic Bank, down 0.5 percent.

In Kuwait, the market rebounded for the first time since authorities divided it into three segments a week ago as part of reforms designed to boost liquidity and attract more foreign money. The index for the premier market, home to the largest and most liquid companies, rose 0.9 percent.

Abu Dhabi fell 1.8 percent, with First Abu Dhabi Bank losing 2.4 percent and telecommunications firm Etisalat sliding 1.7 percent.

Dubai lost 0.4 percent as Gulf General Investment tumbled 9.8 percent. The conglomerate is in talks with lenders to restructure loans and credit lines after having defaulted on a debt repayment last year; it said on Sunday it plans to discuss at a general assembly meeting late this month a proposed capital reduction to 586 million dirhams ($159.5 million) from 1.7 billion dirhams.

Egypt’s stock market was closed for a national holiday.

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index gained 0.2 percent to 7,968 points.

DUBAI

* The index shed 0.4 percent to 3,071 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index dropped 1.8 percent to 4,603 points.

QATAR

* The index lost 0.1 percent to 8,782 points.

KUWAIT

* The index rebounded 0.9 percent to 4,835 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 1,284 points.

OMAN

* The index climbed 0.5 percent to 4,821 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia and Adrian Croft)

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