July 9, 2020 / 7:39 AM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi bourse gains in early trade; other markets quiet

July 9 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s stock market rose in early trade on Thursday, supported by petrochemicals and banking shares, while trade on other major bourses in the Gulf was subdued.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index added 0.3%, driven by a 0.4% gain in Al Rajhi Bank and a 1.5% rise in Saudi Arabian Fertilizers.

Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it had completed the first batch of its flour milling sector privatisation, according to a statement by the state grain buyer and privatisation centre.

The privatisation process had attracted initial interest from some of the world’s largest agribusiness companies, including Archer Daniels Midland Co and Bunge Ltd and was seen as a litmus test for other large state asset sales to follow.

Dubai’s main share index slipped 0.1%, with Emirates NBD Bank losing 0.8% and logistic firm Aramex down 1.2%.

The Abu Dhabi index eased 0.2%, hurt by a 0.7% fall in Emirates Telecommunications and a 3.7% decline in Waha Capital.

However, the index’s fall was cushioned by Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, which advanced 5.2%.

On Tuesday, the company said it had agreed financing for the United Arab Emirates’ largest gas-fired power plant, which is expected to cost approximately 4.2 billion dirhams ($1.14 billion).

In Qatar, the index traded flat, as its constituents moved sideways. Market heavyweight Industries Qatar added 0.6%, while Qatar Islamic Bank retreated 1.1%.

The Qatari cabinet approved on Wednesday a draft resolution that aims to raise the percentage of Qataris working at state-owned companies or where the state is an investor to 60%, state news agency QNA reported.

$1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru

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