April 15, 2019 / 1:26 PM / 5 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Abu Dhabi hits near 5-year high, petchems lift Saudi

    * Saudi's Bank Albilad gains on higher Q1 profit
    * Qatar Electricity And Water slides on lower Q1 profit
    * Egypt blue-chip index falls for 3rd session

    By Shakeel Ahmad
    April 15 (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi's stock market rose to a near
five-year high on Monday, lifted by First Abu Dhabi Bank, while
petrochemical stocks led gains on Saudi Arabia's main index. 
    The Abu Dhabi index was up 0.9 percent after hitting
its highest since May 2014.
    First Abu Dhabi Bank, the United Arab Emirates'
largest lender, climbed 2.4 percent to 16 dirhams, touching an
all-time high. Last week, the bank obtained regulatory approval
to increase its foreign ownership limit to 40 percent from a
previous limit of 25 percent.
    The Saudi index was up 0.4 percent with its top
petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries gaining 1.1
percent and Riyad Bank advancing 2.1 percent.
     Bank Albilad rose 1.5 percent after its
first-quarter net profit grew more than 23 percent.
    The bourse has gained 16 percent so far this year as foreign
buyers rushed in ahead of and after its entry into the FTSE
Russell's emerging market index on March 18.
    Foreign investors have been net buyers of Saudi stocks every
week this year and bought 1.21 billion riyals ($322.64 million)
of shares on a net basis in the last week, according to stock
exchange data released late on Sunday.
    In Dubai, the index rose 0.6 percent, supported by
a 5.3 percent gain in Dubai Investments and a 1.4
percent rise in Dubai Islamic Bank. The lender said
that it regularly looks at expansion opportunities, including
buying other financial institutions.
    The United Arab Emirates' largest sharia-compliant bank is
in talks with shareholders of unlisted Noor Bank over a possible
acquisition of the Dubai-based lender, three sources familiar
with the matter told Reuters last week.
    "We see the likelihood of a deal going through as high,
driving the consolidation theme in UAE," Arqaam Capital said in
a note. It said Noor was now the only unlisted bank in the UAE,
following the merger of Abu Dhabi counterparts Al Hilal and Abu
Dhabi Commercial Bank.
    Qatar's index edged 0.1 percent lower, as Qatar
Electricity And Water shed 2.4 percent after its
first-quarter net profit fell nearly 22 percent.
    The company further said it aims to generate 40 percent of
its profit from foreign investment arm Nebras Power over the
next 10 years.
    Egypt's blue-chip index inched down 0.1 percent,
slipping for the third straight session, with investment firm
Egypt Kuwait Holding falling 1 percent.

($1 = 3.7503 riyals)
 SAUDI      The index         was up 0.4 pct to 9,088 points
 ABU DHABI  The index        added 0.9 pct to 5,222 points
 DUBAI      The index          rose 0.6 pct to 2,805 points
 QATAR      The index        was down 0.1 pct at 10,222 points
 EGYPT      The index          was down 0.1 pct to 15,055
 BAHRAIN    The index        fell 0.3 pct to 1,441 points
 OMAN       The index        rose 0.5 pct to 4,012 points
 KUWAIT     The index        wa up 0.2 pct to 6,136 points
 (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru
Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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