August 20, 2017 / 1:49 PM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf finds support from robust oil price, Egypt declines

* Three Saudi insurers drop after ban imposed

* SABB signs deal to buy HSBC's ownership in SABB Takaful

* Dubai's Union Properties rebound continues

* Banks support Qatar

* Egypt's El Sewedy Electric down on profit-taking

By Celine Aswad

DUBAI, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Most stock markets in the Gulf rose modestly on Sunday, lifted by a rally in oil prices at the end of last week, while three small to mid-sized Saudi Arabian insurers fell sharply after they were slapped with a temporary ban by the central bank.

Riyadh's index added 0.4 percent as all but two of the 14 listed petrochemical producers advanced after Brent oil surged 3.3 percent on Friday. Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical rose 1.6 percent.

Saudi Indian Company for Cooperative Insurance dropped 3.8 percent, Malath Cooperative Insurance fell 4.5 percent and Arabian Shield Cooperative Insurance slumped 7.6 percent.

The central bank said it was temporarily banning those insurers from selling vehicle policies because of "serious breaches" in their car insurance practices.

Another insurer, Sabb Takaful, closed up 0.2 percent. Saudi British Bank (SABB) announced that it had signed an agreement to buy all of HSBC's shares in the insurance company for 117.8 million riyals ($31.4 million), taking SABB's total ownership in the insurer to 65 percent.

The deal, which is pending board and regulatory approvals, is expected to be completed in the second half of this year. Shares of SABB fell 0.7 percent.

In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai's index rose 0.4 percent on the back of gains in stocks that were volatile last week.

Union Properties, the most heavily traded share on Sunday, jumped 4.3 percent to 0.898 dirham. Last week the Motor City developer reported a big quarterly loss as it fixed accounting errors; the stock has now regained the level where it was trading before the announcement of the loss.

"Funds with excess cash have been chasing alpha and not fundamentals," said a Dubai-based fund manager. "In such an environment it would be hard to call any trend or direction."

Abu Dhabi's index closed flat in thin trade; Dana Gas rose 3.3 percent, while Abu Dhabi National Energy lost 1.6 percent on profit-taking from last week's jump.

Banking shares were robust in Doha, helping lift the index 0.3 percent higher. Commercial Bank gained 1.2 percent.

Egypt's index fell 0.7 percent as shares of El Sewedy Electric lost 1.3 percent on profit-taking. In the previous two sessions they had jumped 9.3 percent after the company reported a 72 percent jump in its second-quarter net income and proposed a cash dividend of 8 Egyptian pounds per share.


* The index rose 0.4 percent to 7,209 points.


* The index added 0.4 percent to 3,615 points.


* The index flat at 4,493 points.


* The index rose 0.3 percent to 9,134 points.


* The index fell 0.7 percent to 13,026 points.


* The index added 0.2 percent to 6,901 points.


* The index gained 1.0 percent to 1,312 points.


* The index rose 0.5 percent to 4,913 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia and Richard Balmforth)

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