March 19, 2019 / 1:35 PM / 3 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi inches up after index inclusion, Egypt hits 3-month low

    * Saudi's Alhokair gains after Arqaam upgrade
    * Egypt suffers biggest intraday loss this year
    * 29 of Egypt's 30 blue-chip stocks decline
    * Qatar Navigation slides on going ex-dividend

    By Shakeel Ahmad
    March 19 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's stock index edged up on
Tuesday after touching a near-four year high on Monday, which
was its first day as a member of FTSE Russell's emerging-market
index.
    Egypt's blue-chip index, meanwhile, was pulled down by a
wide sell-off to its biggest intra-day loss this year. 
    Saudi's Tadawul index will have a weighting of 2.9
percent in the FTSE Emerging All Cap Index and later this year
will join the MSCI emerging market benchmark. The market is
positioned for passive fund inflows of around $20 billion.

    Saudi Arabia's listed companies could see holdings by
foreign investors rise to 10 percent when shares are included in
index providers MSCI and FTSE's emerging markets indices,
Tadawul's Chief Executive told Reuters.
    Saudi's index edged up 0.1 percent with Abdullah Abdul
Mohsin Al Khodari Sons surging 10 percent. The stock
has jumped in the last four sessions after shareholders voted
against the dissolution of the company.
    Retailer Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair climbed 2.2
percent to 24 riyals after Arqaam Capital upgraded the stock to
"buy" and raised its price target to 28 riyals.
    Arqaam also said it expects Saudi retailers to post strong
numbers in the second half of the year with strong topline
growth driving margin expansion.  
    Egypt's blue-chip index fell 1.8 percent to its
biggest intraday loss this year with 29 of its 30 stocks
declining.  
    The two stocks with the most weightage on the index slid
considerably, Commercial International Bank slipping
1.8 percent and Global Telecom declining 5.8 percent.
The latter said it was still working with the Egyptian Tax
Authority to resolve its outstanding tax issues.
    In Dubai, the index was up 0.8 percent, rising for
a third straight session with most gains coming from its real
estate and bank shares. The emirate's largest lender Emirates
NBD rose 1.5 percent.
    Emaar Properties added 2.1 percent in active trade
and DAMAC Properties increased 1.4 percent. 
    "We are selectively positive on UAE real estate" despite a
challenging market in 2019, Arqaam Capital said, adding that a
key catalyst for UAE's real estate is GCC investors rotating out
of Saudi Arabia around the MSCI index events, as well as
near-term dividend announcements.
    The Abu Dhabi index was up 0.3 percent lifted by
financial stocks with First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) FAB.AD, the
United Arab Emirates' largest lender, trading 0.3 percent
higher.
    Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank added 2 percent ahead of
going ex-dividend on Thursday. Shareholders buying the stock
before that day will be entitled to a full-year dividend which
the board proposed at 27.4 percent of its share capital.
    Qatar's index was down 0.2 percent, hurt by banking
sector stocks with Middle East's biggest lender Qatar National
Bank shedding 1.2 percent.
    Marine transport company Qatar Navigation dived
6.2 percent as it traded ex-dividend.

($1 = 3.7502 riyals)        
 SAUDI       The index         edged up 0.1 pct to 8,659
 ARABIA      points
 ABU DHABI   The index        was up 0.3 pct at 5,079 points
 DUBAI       The index          rose 0.8 pct to 2,641 points
 QATAR       The index        was down 0.2 pct at 9,957 points
 EGYPT       The index          fell 1.8 pct to 14,646 points
 KUWAIT      The index        rose 1.1 pct to 5,750 points
 OMAN        The index        rose 0.7 pct to 4,156 points
 BAHRAIN     The index        rose 0.5 pct to 1,420 points
 
 (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)
  
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