July 19, 2018 / 2:04 PM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf stocks muted; SABIC little changed after Aramco plan

* SABIC edges up 0.3 pct after Aramco proposal

* Saudi little changed as investors await earnings

* First Abu Dhabi Bank gains in Abu Dhabi ahead of earnings

By Tom Arnold

DUBAI, July 19 (Reuters) - Gulf stock markets were muted on Thursday, with Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) little changed in Saudi Arabia after Saudi Aramco said it was in early talks to acquire a stake in the petrochemical giant.

SABIC, the largest listed company in the Gulf and the world's fourth-biggest petrochemicals company, closed up by 0.2 percent after edging between positive and negative territory earlier in the trading session.

That suggested investors were still assessing the possible impact on SABIC of a plan for Saudi Aramco to buy a strategic stake in the company.

Aramco said in a statement on Thursday that it was in "very early-stage discussions" with the kingdom's Public Investment Fund (PIF) to acquire the stake in SABIC via a private transaction. It has no plans to acquire any publicly held shares, it said. Reuters reported on Wednesday that the government was considering a plan for Aramco to buy a stake in the petrochemical maker.

In Saudi Arabia, the index was flat, closing down 0.03 percent.

The biggest drag was provided by Al Rajhi Bank, which closed down 2 percent. Al Rajhi and some of the other large banks are still to report their second quarter results.

In Abu Dhabi, First Abu Dhabi Bank, the largest bank in the United Arab Emirates, was the biggest gainer, rising by 1.5 percent. The lender is expected to report its earnings next week. The Abu Dhabi index rose 0.3 percent, with thin trading on many shares.

Emaar Properties was the biggest weight on Dubai's index, falling 1.2 percent. The developer has put $1.4 billion in non-core assets up for sale amid an economic downturn, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday, citing sources .

The Dubai index edged 0.2 percent lower.

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index was down 0.03 percent to 8,450 points.

DUBAI

* The index slipped 0.2 percent to 2,926 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index rose 0.3 percent to 4,770 points.

QATAR

* The index was 0.3 percent down at 9,421 points.

KUWAIT

* The index was 0.1 percent up at 5,353 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index gained 0.3 percent to 1,355 points.

OMAN

* The index fell 0.2 percent to 4,448 points.

EGYPT

* The index fell 1.0 percent to 15,416 points.

$1 = 17.8700 Egyptian pounds Reporting by Tom Arnold, editing by Larry King

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