Saudi lead markets higher | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Saudi lead markets higher

All major Gulf markets performed strongly yesterday after last week’s holidays as a global rally lifted regional sentiment, with Saudi outperforming boosted by expected foreign fund inflows. “All MENA markets have come back strong from the Eid break. The Global lead has been positive but the local factors are also supportive,” said Vrajesh Bhandari, senior portfolio manager at Al Mal Capital. Saudi’s index rose 1.7 per cent with its largest lender National Commercial Bank jumping 3.6pc and biggest petrochemical maker Saudi Basic Industries adding 2.6pc.

The index has gained over 12pc year-to-date in a rally led by foreign investors, who have been net buyers of Saudi stocks every month this year. Saudi stock exchange data released late on Sunday showed foreigners bought a net 17.62 billion riyals ($4.70 billion) of Saudi stocks last month. A third tranche of the FTSE Russell emerging market index will kick in this month after Saudi stocks were included in two tranches in March and April. “Investors are again repositioning for the FTSE flows in Saudi,” added Bhandari.

Late last month the Saudi equity market joined the MSCI Emerging Market index, which is expected to trigger billions of dollars of foreign fund inflows. Qatar’s index rose 2pc with banks leading gains in 18 of its 20 stocks. In Dubai, real estate stock pushed the index up 0.9pc. The emirate’s blue-chip developer Emaar Properties rose 1.6pc and its unit Emaar Malls increased 4.3pc. Dubai Islamic Bank also traded 1.6pc higher after its board recommended acquisition of the private lender Noor Bank. Abu Dhabi’s index was up 0.8pc, lifted by Aldar Properties, which rose 2.8pc, and First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) FAB.AD, which increased 1.5pc.

The lender fell 1.2pc in the last session after the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority said it had imposed additional measures to restrict First Abu Dhabi’s business in the Gulf state. Egypt’s blue-chip index rose, with 27 of its 30 stocks gaining and the country’s largest lender Commercial International Bank adding 1.9pc. Global Telecom was up 1.1pc after the company on Sunday announced it had postponed its shareholder meeting to provide more time for investors to consider the mandatory tender offer submitted by major shareholder VEON.