April 15, 2019 / 8:32 AM / 3 months ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Lender FAB lifts Abu Dubai, QEWC weighs on Qatar

April 15 (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi’s stock market rose from the previous session’s 4-1/2-year high on Monday, lifted by First Abu Dhabi Bank, while Qatar Electricity And Water weighed on the Qatar index.

The Abu Dhabi index was up 0.5 percent with First Abu Dhabi Bank adding 1 percent. Last week, it obtained regulatory approval to increase its foreign ownership limit to 40 percent from a previous limit of 25 percent.

Qatar’s index was down 0.3 percent with Qatar Gas Transport losing 3.1 percent and Qatar Electricity And Water shedding 2.3 percent after its first-quarter net profit fell nearly 22 percent.

The company also said it aims to generate 40 percent of its profit from foreign investment arm Nebras Power in the next 10 years.

In Dubai, the index rose 0.5 percent, supported by a 2 percent gain in Dubai Islamic Bank. The lender said that it regularly looks at expansion opportunities, including buying other financial institutions.

The United Arab Emirates’ largest sharia-compliant bank is in talks with shareholders of unlisted Dubai-based Noor Bank over a possible acquisition of the lender, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters last week.

“We see the likelihood of a deal going through as high, driving the consolidation theme in UAE,” Arqaam Capital said, noting that Noor was now the only unlisted bank in the UAE, following the merger of Abu Dhabi counterparts Al Hilal and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.

Saudi Arabia’s index traded flat with Bank Albilad rising 1.7 percent after its first-quarter net profit grew more than 23 percent.

National Shipping Company Of Saudi Arabia fell 4.1 percent as the stock traded ex-dividend.

The index has gained about 16 percent so far this year as foreign buyers rushed in ahead of and after its entry into the FTSE Russell’s emerging market index on March 18.

Foreign investors have been net buyers of Saudi stocks every week this year and bought 1.21 billion riyals ($322.64 million) of shares on a net basis in the last week, according to stock exchange data released late on Sunday.

$1 = 3.7503 riyals Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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