April 18, 2019 / 1:41 PM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Abu Dhabi hits 13-year high, most Gulf markets rise

    * Abu Dhabi's Aldar gains on foreign property ownership plan
    * FAB rises after foreign ownership limit hike
    * 10 of 12 Saudi banks slide
    * Qatar's QISB, Commercial Bank climb on higher Q1 profit

    By Shakeel Ahmad
    April 18 (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi's stock market rose sharply
on Thursday to reach its highest level in more than 13 years,
partly lifted by top lender First Abu Dhabi Bank which has
gained this week after regulatory approval to raise foreign
ownership limit of its shares.
    The Abu Dhabi index rose 1.1 percent to its highest
since December 2005 with First Abu Dhabi Bank
increasing 1.5 percent. The bank has risen nearly 9 percent this
week after obtaining regulatory approval last week to increase
its foreign ownership limit to 40 percent from 25 percent.
    First Abu Dhabi "could see significant $620 million of
inflows if the foreign ownership increase to 40 percent is
implemented before the last 10 trading days of April," Arqaam
Capital said in a note. 
    Energy firm Dana Gas added 1.9 percent after
shareholders approved a share buyback programme of up to 10
percent of its capital, and a capital increase to 6.99 billion
dirhams ($1.90 billion) from 6.97 billion dirhams.
    Aldar Properties rose 3.3 percent after Abu Dhabi
said it would now allow all foreigners to own land and property
in investment areas on a freehold basis after making changes to
its real estate law.
    The United Arab Emirates capital previously limited
ownership largely to Emiratis and citizens of the neighbouring
Gulf Cooperation Council states.
    Saudi Arabia's index was down 0.5 percent with 10 of
its 12 banks sliding. Al Rajhi Bank slipped 0.8
percent while the Middle East's largest petrochemical maker
Saudi Basic Industries shed 1.1 percent.
    Saudi Arabian Mining (Ma'aden) dropped 1 percent.
Arqaam Capital initiated coverage on the stock with a "sell"
rating with a target price of 44 riyals.    
    Qatar's index was up 0.4 percent with Qatar Islamic
Bank increasing 2.3 percent and Qatar Commercial Bank
 rising 2.4 percent.
    Qatar Islamic Bank and Qatar Commercial Bank posted 9.6
percent and 6.5 percent gains respectively in first-quarter net
profits.
    Qatar National Bank, the Middle East's largest
lender, climbed 1.1 percent. The lender said it issued $850
million in Formosa bonds aimed at diversifying funding from new
markets.  
    In Dubai, the index traded flat with Commercial
Bank Of Dubai gaining 2.6 percent after its
first-quarter net profit jumped more than 21 percent. Logistics
firm Aramex on the other hand declined 1.4 percent as
the stock traded ex-dividend.
    Egypt's blue-chip index edged up 0.1 percent with
investment firm Egypt Kuwait Holding climbing 3.4
percent. 
    Kuwait's premier index rose 1.1 percent with its
biggest lender National Bank of Kuwait adding 1.2
percent. Earlier this week, it reported a 15.1 percent rise in
first-quarter profit, helped by higher net interest income and
lower provisioning charges, beating analysts' forecasts. 

($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham)    
 SAUDI       The index         fell 0.5 pct to 9,197 points
 ARABIA      
 ABU DHABI   The index        rose 1.1 pct to 5,292 points
 DUBAI       The index          was flat at 2,814 points
 QATAR       The index        was up 0.4 pct at 10,348 points
 EGYPT       The index          was up 0.1 pct to 14,876 points
 BAHRAIN     The index        was up 0.1 pct to 1,446 points
 OMAN        The index        edged up 0.1 pct to 3,980 points
 KUWAIT      The index        rose 1.1 pct to 6,245 points
 
 (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru
Editing by Peter Graff)
  
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