* Saudi Arabia extends bounce from technical support
* Al Rajhi hits 6-month high after new CEO appointed
* Dubai insurer Salama surges on swing to Q1 profit
* Qatar’s Ezdan climbs further ahead of EM index inclusion
* MSCI index concerns weigh on Egypt despite S&P outlook upgrade
By Olzhas Auyezov
DUBAI, May 17 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets were mixed on Sunday after oil prices diverged while it remained unclear whether the truce in Yemen would be extended. Egypt’s market extended losses on speculation that it might eventually lose emerging market status.
Brent crude edged up on Friday but U.S. oil fell as traders and investors debated whether oil’s rally over the past month and a half should continue amid stubbornly high supplies.
In Yemen, a five-day humanitarian truce agreed last week was to end in the early hours of Monday, and no new agreements had been announced to extend it by the time stock markets closed on Sunday.
The Yemen conflict is not a big factor for the markets but investors in the Middle East and especially in Saudi Arabia, which leads the coalition against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, have reacted negatively to it. So a resumption of full-scale bombing could weigh on stocks, at least temporarily.
The main Saudi index climbed 0.9 percent to 9,815 points as most stocks rose. Last week it confirmed technical support on its 200-day average, now at 9,566 points, and it faces chart resistance at its April peak of 9,897 points.
Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabia’s second largest listed bank by assets, rose 1.1 percent to a six-month closing high of 67.25 riyals. The lender, which has reported seven straight quarterly profit drops, started its leg up last week after announcing that Steve Bertamini, former head of consumer banking at Standard Chartered, would become its new chief executive.
Al Tayyar Travel Group, which was the only addition to MSCI’s new Saudi Arabian index last week, rose 1.2 percent.
PetroRabigh added 1.8 percent after restarting a vacuum distillation unit following unscheduled maintenance at its 400,000 barrel per day oil refinery.
Dubai’s stock index slipped 0.1 percent as construction firms Arabtec and Drake and Scull International, which both reported worse-than-expected first-quarter earnings last week, continued to slide. They fell 1.2 and 1.1 percent respectively.
But Islamic Arab Insurance (Salama) surged 9.7 percent after it reported a first-quarter profit of 9.4 million dirhams ($2.6 million) against a loss of 21.3 million dirhams a year earlier.
Abu Dhabi’s bourse fell 1.0 percent as all major local lenders fell. First Gulf Bank dropped 2.0 percent, National Bank of Abu Dhabi lost 1.4 percent and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank was down 1.3 percent.
Qatar’s index climbed 0.2 percent and Ezdan Holding , up 6.6 percent, was the main support. Its inclusion in MSCI’s index was a surprise to some analysts and the stock surged 18 percent in two sessions last week. But Qatar Insurance , which had also risen on MSCI index inclusion, dropped 4.6 percent on Sunday.
Kuwait’s benchmark inched up 0.1 percent. Oman’s market was closed for the Al Israa wal Miraj Muslim holiday.
Egypt’s market fell 0.5 percent to a fresh five-month low of 8,261 points, approaching strong technical support at 8,125 points, its December low.
The bourse edged up in early trade on news that Standard and Poor’s had revised its outlook on Egypt’s sovereign debt rating to positive.
But then a broad sell-off resumed on speculation that MSCI, which last week excluded Telecom Egypt from its emerging markets index, might eventually drop Egypt from the benchmark completely.
Only three Egyptian stocks remain in the index, which is the minimum required to maintain a presence in the emerging markets index, according to MSCI rules published on its website. MSCI did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
* The index rose 0.9 percent to 9,815 points.
* The index slipped 0.1 percent to 4,067 points.
* The index fell 1.0 percent to 4,584 points.
* The index edged up 0.2 percent to 12,540 points.
* The index fell 0.5 percent to 8,261 points.
* The index climbed 0.1 percent to 6,364 points.
* The index fell 0.4 percent to 1,386 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia)