May 15, 2019 / 8:28 AM / 8 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Banks bolster Saudi; most major Gulf markets mixed

May 15 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's stock market rose on Wednesday buoyed by its banking stocks recovering from recent losses, while major Gulf markets were mixed in subdued trading.

Saudi Arabia's index increased 2.4% as all its banking stocks rose. Al Rajhi Bank and National Commercial Bank were up 3.1% each, while Samba Financial Group rose 3.5%.

The index fell as much as 2.1% on Tuesday after drone attacks but recovered to close flat at 0.1%. Saudi Arabia said drones had struck oil pumping stations two days after its oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

"With rising tensions between Iran and the U.S., and with significant naval build-up in the region, markets are sensitive to news and can be tipped by the smallest signs of a conflict," said Mihir Kapadia, chief executive officer of Sun Global Investments.

In Dubai, the index slipped 0.8%, with Emaar Properties, its largest listed developer, shedding 2.1% and its unit Emaar Malls losing 1.1%.

DXB Entertainment plunged 4.6%. On Tuesday, the firm posted a wider first-quarter loss of AED 215.7 million dirhams ($58.73 million) compared to a loss of 210.4 million dirhams year ago.

"DXBE targets EBITDA break-even by H2 2020, which we view as challenging in light of Q1 footfall and revenue growth," Arqaam Capital wrote in a note.

But DAMAC Properties rose 1.1% despite reporting its worst ever quarterly profit.

Abu Dhabi's index declined 0.5% as First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), the United Arab Emirates' largest lender, lost 1.4%.

The index provider MSCI decided against increasing FAB's foreign inclusion factor, despite FAB increasing its foreign ownership limit to 40% from 25%.

RAK Properties dipped 4.7%. The real estate firm's board approved resignation of Samih Onsi Sawirs as a board member.

Qatar's blue chip index rose 0.4% with Mesaieed Petrochemical jumping 8.1%. MSCI included the stock and Qatar Fuel to index review. Qatar Fuel was down 0.7%. ($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham) (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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