May 22, 2019 / 8:29 AM / a month ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi gains ahead of MSCI entry, banks lift most Gulf markets

May 22 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia’s stock market rose on Wednesday with most of its banks gaining ahead of MSCI entry later this month. Lenders also lifted most major Gulf bourses.

Saudi’s index was up 0.9% in early trade. Al Rajhi Bank increased 1%, petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries added 0.9% and Saudi Telecom was 1.9% higher.

The three stocks will be the largest additions to the MSCI Emerging Markets Index measured by full company market capitalization.

MSCI last week said it would include MSCI Saudi Arabia in its emerging-markets index, effective May 28, a move that could draw billions of dollars into the market.

However, Saudi Arabian mall operator Arabian Centres fell 5.8% to 24.5 riyals from its initial public offer price of 26 riyals.

Arabian Centres’ share sale, which raised 2.47 billion riyals ($658.65 million), was the kingdom’s third biggest since Saudi lender National Commercial Bank raised $6 billion in 2014, according to Refinitiv data

In Dubai, the index was up 0.7% after rebounding 1% last session from a four-day losing streak. Banks led the gains with the emirate’s largest lender, Emirates NBD, adding 1.4% and Dubai Islamic Bank up 1%.

The United Arab Emirates said on Tuesday that it will grant 6,800 foreign investors permanent residency under a new “Golden Card” system after they invested a combined 100 billion dirhams ($27.23 billion) in the Gulf state.

Banks also pushed the Qatar index 0.3% higher. Qatar National Bank, the Middle East’s biggest lender, rose 0.9% while the blue-chip petrochemical maker Industries Qatar traded 1% higher.

The Abu Dhabi index traded flat with Dana Gas rising 1% after the energy firm on Tuesday said it had started drilling operations at Merak-1 well, offshore Egypt. ($1 = 3.7501 riyals) (Reporting by Shakeel Ahmad in Bengaluru, Editing by William Maclean)

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