Banks bolster Saudi market
Saudi Arabia’s stock market rose sharply for the fourth session yesterday, boosted mainly by its banking shares on expectations of further capital inflows, while Abu Dhabi was weighed down by financials. The Saudi index was up 1.6 per cent with all its banks gaining.
Al Rajhi Bank added 1.5pc and National Commercial Bank climbed 3.3pc. The index has gained nearly 15pc year-to-date, outperforming other major Gulf peers in a rally led by foreign investors, who have been net buyers of Saudi stocks every month this year. 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.
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. Malath Cooperative Insurance added 3.1pc after it renewed a vehicle insurance contract with Arab National Bank for a year with premiums from the deal expected to exceed 5pc of the firm’s total annual sales. The Abu Dhabi index declined 0.6pc after rising in five of the last six sessions, with most of its financial stocks sliding.
First Abu Dhabi Bank, the United Arab Emirates’ largest lender, dropped 0.8pc and Emirates Telecommunications was down 1.1pc. Qatar’s index rose 0.8pc with financials leading the gains. Egypt ’s blue- chip index closed 0.4pc higher, as a 2.2pc gain in its heavyweight lender Commercial International Bank offset other declining stocks.
In Dubai, the index traded flat with budget airline Air Arabia gaining 2.9pc and Dubai Islamic Bank losing 1pc. The lender rose in the previous session after its board proposed acquiring private lender Noor Bank.