May 30, 2019 / 1:18 PM / 21 days ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Qatar jumps on PM’s visit to Saudi as major Gulf markets leap

    * Qatar enjoys best day in 9 months
    * Lender FAB, Etisalat boost Abu Dhabi
    * Saudi's SIPCHEM gains after CEO appointment 
    * 28 of 30 Egyptian stocks slide

    By Ateeq Shariff
    May 30 (Reuters) - Qatar's stock market surged to its
biggest intra-day high in nine months on Thursday after report
that Qatar's prime minister will attend an Arab summit in Saudi
Arabia, while all major Gulf bourses also rallied mostly riding
on financial stocks.
    Qatar's prime minister will attend an Arab summit in Saudi
Arabia on Thursday to discuss regional security, the Foreign
Ministry said on Wednesday, the highest level Qatari official to
visit the kingdom during a diplomatic rift.
    Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt
imposed an economic and diplomatic boycott on Qatar in June 2017
over allegations that Doha supports terrorism, a charge Qatar
denies.
    Qatar's index rose 3.4% to hit its sharpest intra-day
high since August 2018. Banks led the gains with Qatar National
Bank leaping 4.4% and Commercial Bank
soaring 9%.
    "Euphoria in Qatar today is on the back of a report that the
PM will attend the Gulf summit over the weekend - this is the
most senior official to go to the Kingdom since the embargo in
2017," said Vrajesh Bhandari, senior portfolio manager at Al Mal
Capital. 
    "Another factor is the stock split, that is change in par
value from QAR 10 to 1, which local retail investors see as a
catalyst."
    A 10-to-one stock split for companies on the exchange will
be phased in from June 9, aiming to encourage small investors to
invest to increase liquidity.
    The Abu Dhabi index climbed 2.8%, rising for the
fourth straight session. First Abu Dhabi Bank, the
United Arab Emirates' largest lender, jumped 4.1% to 14.9
dirhams, while Emirates Telecommunications Group was
up 4.5%.
    First Abu Dhabi Bank shares touched a record 17 dirhams late
last month following a foreign ownership limit increase to 40%
from 25%.
    But the stock has seen cooling since then, under pressure
from the global trade dispute and geopolitical worries, and as
MSCI retained its foreign inclusion factor at 25%, disregarding
the foreign ownership limit rise.
    The session's rise has sent the index back into positive
territory this year after a sell-off earlier in May had turned
the index red.   
    Saudi's index was up 1.2% a day after joining MSCI's
emerging market index. Banks and petrochemical shares were the
biggest boost, led by Riyad Bank, which climbed 3.1%
and petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries, which
traded 1.6% up. 
    Sahara International Petrochemical gained 4.2%
after on Wednesday it appointed Saleh Muhammed Bahamdan its
chief executive. 
    In Dubai, the index closed 0.8% higher, boosted by
financial and real estate shares with its largest listed
developer, Emaar Properties, adding 1.4% and the
biggest lender Emirate's NBD, gaining 0.9%.
    Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index closed
1.4% lower as 28 of its 30 stocks declined. Real estate shares
were the biggest drag with real estate investment firm Talaat
Mostafa Group Holding shedding 4.5%.
    Global Telecom dropped 5.3%. It said on Thursday 
the firm was in discussions with the Egyptian Tax Authority on
certain tax claims.  
    
 SAUDI ARABIA  The index         increased 1.2% to 8,516 points
 ABU DHABI     The index        was up 2.8% to 5,004 points
 DUBAI         The index          rose 0.8% to 2,620 points
 QATAR         The index        hiked 3.4% to 10,273 points
 EGYPT         The index          dropped 1.4% at 13,771 points
 BAHRAIN       The index        gained 0.2% to 1,434 points
 OMAN          The index        lost 0.2% to 3,934 points
 KUWAIT        The index        added 0.6% to 6,242 points
 
    
    

 (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru
Editing by Frances Kerry)
  
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