May 14, 2018 / 7:54 AM / 2 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Banks drive Saudi higher, Qatar National Bank helps Qatar

DUBAI, May 14 (Reuters) - Saudi and Qatari stocks were up in early trade on Monday, helped by support from banking stocks, as Gulf markets showed signs of recovery from jitters last week over the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

The Saudi index was up 0.2 percent as Al Rajhi Bank rose 0.5 percent and Samba Financial Group gained 0.6 percent.

The Saudi market has seen a recovery after it dipped below the 8000-point level on May 10 on profit taking after sharp gains this year on foreign fund flows on expectations of an upgrade of the stock market to emerging market status.

In March, global index compiler FTSE Russell decided to upgrade Saudi Arabia to emerging market status, and MSCI is widely expected to make a similar decision in June.

Saudi stocks are up 11 percent so far this year, but this month the index is down 2 percent.

Gains in Qatar National Bank, which was up 1.4 percent, provided support to the Qatari index which traded 0.3 percent higher in early trading.

The Dubai index was up 0.1 percent, as market heavyweight Emaar Properties rose 1.2 percent.

Shares of Al Salam Bank Bahrain were up 7.6 pct in Dubai trading after the lender reported a 10 pct rise in first quarter net profit.

There was little trading on the Bahrain bourse in this stock.

In Abu Dhabi, Dana Gas fell 0.9 percent on profit-taking after it surged 3.9 percent a day earlier on news that the company had struck a deal with creditors on restructuring $700 million of sukuk, potentially bringing to an end a nearly year-long legal row that spooked investors in Islamic finance.

However, the Abu Dhabi index was up 0.3 percent, supported by a 0.4 percent gain in First Abu Dhabi Bank and 1 percent rise in Aldar Properties. ($1 = 3.6730 UAE dirham) (Reporting by Saeed Azhar Editing by Keith Weir)

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