December 27, 2018 / 1:32 PM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Wall Street surge buoys Gulf, Saudi banks strong

    * Riyad Bank continues to climb on merger talks
    * Saudi's SABB, Samba rise on dividend proposals
    * Six of seven Qatari banks rise
    * Qatar's United Development gains on plot sale deal 
    * El Sewedy Electric top gainer in Egypt

    By Shakeel Ahmad and Ateeq Shariff
    Dec 27 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia and other Gulf stock markets
gained on Thursday as the sharp rebound on Wall Street overnight
and Brent oil's recovery from below $50 a barrel lifted investor
sentiment.
    Saudi Arabia's index rose 0.5 percent with Al Rajhi
Bank adding 1.1 percent. 
    Riyad Bank climbed for a fourth straight day,
adding 1.3 percent. The stock has been buoyed by news of merger
discussions with National Commercial Bank, the
kingdom's biggest lender by assets, which edged down 0.3
percent.
    Saudi British Bank increased 1.4 percent after its
board proposed a higher dividend of 1.0 riyal per share for the
second half of the year, after 0.96 riyal for the first half.
Samba Financial Group gained 1.7 percent after
proposing a dividend of 1.0 riyal for the same period.
    Saudi Cable Co, which jumped its 10 percent daily
limit in the last session, added a further 3.4 percent in its
heaviest trade for a month; on Wednesday, it said it reached a
final settlement with creditors on 313.6 million riyals ($83.60
million) of loans.
    Qatar's index rose 0.6 percent with six of seven
banks gaining. Qatar Islamic Bank increased 1.6
percent and Doha Bank climbed 1.8 percent; it said on
Wednesday it had raised a $525 million syndicated loan. 
    United Development gained 3.0 percent in its
heaviest trade since March 2017. On Wednesday, the firm said it
finalised a sale agreement with an unnamed strategic Qatari
investor for a plot at The Pearl Qatar project, for which it is
master developer.
    Rami Jamal, portfolio manager at Amwal in Doha, said the
deal appeared to solidify investor confidence that the firm
would keep an attractive dividend policy. Its dividend yield is
8.7 percent and price/book ratio under 0.5, Refinitiv data
shows.
    The Dubai index was flat but some real estate
shares gained, with Emaar Properties rising 2.1
percent and Emaar Development up 0.8 percent. 
    Egypt's blue-chip index, which had snapped a
three-day losing streak on Wednesday, rose 1.2 percent. El
Sewedy Electric was the top gainer, jumping 5.6
percent, while tobacco firm Eastern Co increased 2.6
percent.    

 SAUDI       The index         gained 0.5 percent to 7,749
 ARABIA      points 
 EGYPT       The EGX 30 Index          rose 1.1 percent to
             12,984 points 
 DUBAI       The index          was flat at 2,469 points 
 ABU DHABI   The index        was up 0.3 percent at 4,831
             points 
 QATAR       The Index        increased 0.6 percent to
             10,288 points 
 KUWAIT      The index        edged up 0.2 percent to 5,267
             points 
 BAHRAIN     The index        rose 0.3 percent to 1,322
             points 
 OMAN        The index        was up 0.4 percent at 4,344
             points
 

 (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad and Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru)
  
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