April 19, 2018 / 1:12 PM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi index boosted by oil gains; Qatar National Bank jumps

* Oil prices at highest since late 2014

* Miner Ma’aden leaps in Saudi Arabia

* Al Rajhi Bank, Samba Financial Group gain sharply

* QNB jumps 5.1 pct on ownership limit change

* Dubai Islamic Bank weighs on Dubai

By Tom Arnold

DUBAI, April 19 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s stock market surged on Thursday, bolstered by a pick-up in oil prices to their highest since late 2014, while a jump in heavyweight Qatar National Bank helped to lift Qatar’s index.

The Saudi index finished in positive territory for a sixth straight day, gaining 1.6 percent. Brent oil rose to nearly $75 a barrel on a drop in U.S. crude inventories and after sources told Reuters that Saudi Arabia aims to push oil prices higher.

Al Rajhi Bank rose 2.9 percent and Samba Financial Group 3.5 percent, while Saudi Arabian Mining Co (Ma’aden) advanced by 6.1 percent.

Saudi stocks have been gathering momentum in recent months as investors anticipate foreign fund inflows when the kingdom joins emerging market indexes.

Al Sagr Cooperative Insurance registered its heaviest trade since February last year, closing 4.7 percent higher, while Wala’a Cooperative Insurance gained 2.5 percent after the companies said they would consider a possible merger.

The Qatari index rose by 1.6 percent, driven by a 5.1 percent climb in QNB after shareholders approved a previously proposed increase of its non-Qatari ownership limit to 49 percent from 25 percent and a rise in the amount a single investor can own to 5 percent from 2 percent.

Abu Dhabi’s index closed 0.5 percent up.

Dana Gas recovered from early losses to close flat. Shareholders have approved payment of a cash dividend for 2017, its first in several years. However, courts in Britain and the United Arab Emirates, ruling in the dispute over whether it must redeem $700 million of Islamic bonds, have given conflicting rulings on whether it can legally make the dividend payout.

Dubai’s index finished 0.2 percent down as Dubai Islamic Bank fell 2 percent. The bank posted a 16 percent increase in first-quarter net profit on Wednesday, broadly in line with a forecast by SICO Bahrain.

In Egypt, the blue-chip index rose 0.4 percent, with Commercial International Bank, the biggest lender, adding 0.7 percent.


** The index rose 1.6 percent to 8,277 points.


** The index fell 0.2 percent to 3,082 points.


** The index gained 0.5 percent to 4,707 points.


** The index surged 1.6 percent to 9,197 points.


** The index gained 0.4 percent to 17,781 points.


** Kuwait edged down 0.1 percent to 4,773 points.


** The index rose 0.2 percent to 4,760 points.


** The index edged down 0.04 percent to 1,301 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia Editing by David Goodman )

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