February 12, 2019 / 1:05 PM / 6 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Banks lead Egypt, Saudi stocks higher

    * Egypt's blue-chip index at highest in 5 months
    * GFH's Dubai shares plunges on Q4 profit fall
    * Abu Dhabi Aviation slides on lower FY earnings
    * Qatar stock exchange closed for a public holiday

    By Shakeel Ahmad
    Feb 12 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's stock market rose on
Tuesday as major banks rose on recovering oil prices, while
Egypt's blue-chip index hit a five-month high, helped by its top
lender Commercial International Bank. 
    Saudi Arabia's index was up 0.7 percent, with Al
Rajhi Bank rising 1.8 percent and Banque Saudi Fransi
 gaining 2.9 percent.
    The Saudi index has got off to a strong start this year,
taking many by surprise, SICO Research said in a note, with a 10
percent gain year-to-date after returning 8.3 percent in 2018.
    The recent rally has been led mainly by foreigners buying
close to 4.4 billion riyals ($1.2 billion) through a qualified
foreign investors' scheme and swaps last month in anticipation
of inflows after FTSE Russel and MSCI announced Saudi will join
their emerging market indexes in 2019, SICO added.
    Saudi Arabia will join FTSE Russell's emerging market index
in March and MSCI's emerging market benchmark following a
two-step inclusion process in May and August.
    Saudi real estate stocks gained, with developer Emaar The
Economic City adding 2.7 percent. Al Andalus Property
 was up 0.8 percent after announcing the Aljawharah
Alkubra project which, it estimated, will cost around 873
million riyals.
    Property shares have risen following a royal decree to
reimburse rising expatriate fees that will help labour-intensive
    Egypt's blue-chip index rose 1 percent to touch its
highest since September 2018, with Commercial International Bank
 gaining 1.3 percent.
    The bank has surged 22.2 percent this year on the back of a
37 percent jump in its fourth-quarter net profit and the
approval of an increase in its authorised capital to EGP 50
billion ($2.9 billion) from EGP 20 billion.
    The Abu Dhabi index fell 0.4 percent with Aldar
Properties shedding 3.4 percent and Union National
Bank slipping 0.8 percent. Union National reported a 28
percent drop in its full-year net profit after the market close.
    Abu Dhabi Aviation plunged 6.8 percent. The firm
had reported a full-year net profit attributable to shareholders
of 231.4 million dirhams ($63 million), down from 243.6 million
dirhams a year earlier.
    In Dubai, the benchmark index was down 0.5 percent
as most of its property stocks dropped. Major developer Emaar
Properties slipped 1 percent and builder Arabtec
 retreated 3.8 percent ahead of a board meeting later
on Tuesday to discuss full-year results.  
    GFH Financial Group, which is primarily listed on
the Bahrain stock exchange, slumped 9.8 percent in active trade.
    The firm reported fourth-quarter net profit attributable to
shareholders of $10.6 million, down from $17 million a year
    The Qatar stock exchange was closed for a public holiday.
 SAUDI       The index         rose 0.7 pct to 8,600 points
 DUBAI       The index          shed 0.5 pct to 2,485 points
 ABU DHABI   The index        slid 0.4 pct to 5,024 points
 EGYPT       The index          rose 1 pct to 14,928 points
 KUWAIT      The index        rose 0.9 pct to 5,504 points
 OMAN        The index        fell 0.4 pct to 4,125 points
 BAHRAIN     The index        fell 0.7 pct to 1,389 points

($1 = 3.6729 UAE dirham)

($1 = 17.5500 Egyptian pounds)

 (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru
Editing by Susan Fenton)
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