May 23, 2019 / 1:20 PM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Oil price fall weighs on Saudi while blue chips gain in Egypt

    * 10 of 11 Saudi banks drop
    * Arabian Centres further slides on day-2 of trading
    * El Sewedy extends gains on new firm establishment
    * Dana Gas continues rising on offshore drilling

    By Ateeq Shariff
    May 23 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's stock market fell sharply
on Thursday as banks and petrochemical shares dropped amid
falling oil prices, while Egypt's blue-chip index closed higher.
    Saudi's index dropped 1.4% with 10 of its 11 banks
trading lower. Al Rajhi Bank shed 1.7% and Saudi Basic
Industries fell 2.5%.
    Oil prices dropped on Thursday, extending falls from the
previous session amid growing U.S. crude inventories as low
refinery runs and trade standoffs weigh on the demand outlook.

    The index has lost 8.6% this month in a sell-off triggered
by global trade disputes and regional geo-political tensions.
The market, however, is still up 8.8% year-to-date driven higher
mainly by foreign capital flows into Saudi stocks.
    Saudi Arabian mall operator Arabian Centres, which
debuted on Wednesday, dipped further by 2% to 24.5 riyals
($6.53) from its initial public offer price of 26 riyals.
    Egypt's blue-chip index closed 0.8% higher as
Alexandria Mineral Oils jumped 5.6% after its board
approved launching a study for the second phase of a heavy
refining project to extract high economic-value products.
    El Sewedy Electric gained 2.1%. On Tuesday, it
partnered with General Authority For Suez Canal Economic Zone to
establish a new company with issued capital of 1 billion
Egyptian pounds ($59.49 million), in which the firm will own
    Dubai's index rose for its third straight session,
up 0.2%, rebounding from as much 1% loss earlier in the session,
with most of real estate shares gaining.
    Dubai's largest listed developer Emaar Properties
rose 1.8%, while its unit Emaar Malls added 1.7%.
    The Abu Dhabi index rose 0.6% with First Abu Dhabi
Bank, the country's largest lender, adding 0.6%.
     J.P. Morgan retained an 'overweight' rating on the stock
despite recent price volatility and said it preferred the bank
over Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, which edged up 0.1%.

    Dana Gas rose 2.9%. The stock has been gaining
since Tuesday when the energy firm said it had started drilling
operations at the Merak-1 offshore well in Egypt.
    Qatar's index declined 0.3% with Qatar National Bank
, the Middle East and Africa's largest lender, dropping
1.2% and Qatar Fuel losing 2.1%.
    Companies on Qatar's exchange had in 2018 increased foreign
ownership limits to 49%, most of which had previously been set
at 25%, drawing a flood of cash that helped to boost the main
index by more than 20% last year.
    The index has since cooled, falling about 5 percent since
the start of the year on profit taking amid international
political tensions.
 SAUDI ARABIA  The index         fell 1.4% to 8,531 points
 ABU DHABI     The index        rose 0.6% to 4,777 points
 DUBAI         The index          edged up 0.2% to 2,590 points
 QATAR         The index        lost 0.3% to 9,731 points
 EGYPT         The index          was up 0.8% at 13,777 points
 BAHRAIN       The index        slid 0.2% to 1,408 points
 OMAN          The index        closed 0.4% higher to 3,876
 KUWAIT        The index        declined 0.7% to 6,023 points
($1 = 3.7502 riyals)
($1 = 16.8100 Egyptian pounds)

 (Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh
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