April 16, 2018 / 1:54 PM / in 5 months

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi, Qatar lifted by financials, other Gulf markets mixed

* Saudi stocks optimistic because of MSCI, oil price rally

* BUPA Arabia jumps on plan for bonus share issue

* Strong bank earnings boost Qatari stocks

* Emaar Properties remains a drag on Dubai

* National Bank of Oman falls after Q1 earnings drop

By Saeed Azhar

DUBAI, April 16 (Reuters) - Saudi stocks were lifted on Monday by optimism about fund flows and Qatari stocks rose on strong bank earnings, while other bourses in the region were lacklustre.

The Saudi index closed 1.0 percent higher, lifted by financial stocks. Insurance firm BUPA Arabia gained 5.5 percent after it recommended an increase in capital to 1.2 billion riyals ($320 million) from 800 million riyals through a 1-for-2 bonus share issue.

Banks were also up, with Al Rajhi Bank gaining 2.7 percent, returning to the multi-year high hit last week.

“Investor sentiment is still positive on Saudi due to relatively higher oil prices. Overall we have positive vibes in the market for now ahead of a (potential) MSCI upgrade,” said Muhammad Faisal Potrik, head of research at Riyad Capital.

Index compiler MSCI will decide in June whether to upgrade Riyadh to emerging market status.

In Doha, Qatar Islamic Bank gained 1.6 percent after reporting a 12.6 percent rise in first-quarter net profit to 625.2 million riyals ($171.8 million). That was above analysts’ average forecast of 547 million riyals.

Qatar International Islamic Bank posted a 7 percent rise in first-quarter net profit, lifting its share price 1.4 percent. The country’s biggest bank, Qatar National Bank, added 0.9 percent and Qatar’s benchmark index ended the day 0.7 percent higher.

In Dubai, Emaar Properties fell 1.7 percent, pushing the index 0.3 percent lower. Emaar, which has lost 10 percent so far this year because of a weak local real estate market, has been a big drag on the index.

In Oman, National Bank of Oman fell 1.6 percent after it reported a nearly 9 percent drop in quarterly net profit to 12.6 million rials ($32.7 million), below EFG Hermes’ forecast of 13.3 million rials but above Gulf Baader Capital Markets’ 11.1 million rials.

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index gained 1.0 percent to 8,050 points.

DUBAI

* The index dropped 0.3 percent to 3,141 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index fell 0.4 percent to 4,682 points.

QATAR

* The index rose 0.7 percent to 8,956 points.

KUWAIT

* The index gained 0.3 percent to 4,780 points

EGYPT

* The index rose 0.2 percent to 17,620 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index added 0.5 percent to 1,299 points.

OMAN

* The index dropped 0.2 percent to 4,767 points. (Editing by Andrew Torchia and Catherine Evans)

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