Saudi stock market rises ahead of MSCI entry

Saudi Arabia’s stock market rose on Tuesday ahead of its introduction into the MSCI emerging markets index after this session’s close, while Qatar rose sharply as most of its stocks gained.

Saudi’s index rose 0.6% in early trade. Riyad Bank added 1.9% and Al Rajhi Bank increased 0.4%.

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

Al-Etihad Cooperative Insurance rose 3.3% after the regulator lifted the ban on new vehicle insurance subscriptions.

Saudi Steel Pipes jumped 4%. It had surged 10% on Monday after saying its accumulated losses were reduced to zero as of December 2018.

Qatar’s index rose 1.6% with 15 of its 20 stocks gaining and none losing in the first minutes of trading. Qatar Islamic Bank added 4.3% and petrochemical maker Industries Qatar increased 1.7%.

Qatar’s stock exchange is developing two new Exchange Traded Funds, part of efforts by the Middle East’s strongest performing stock market in 2018 to boost foreign investment, Reuters reported last week, citing CEO Rashid al-Mansoori.

Companies on Qatar’s exchange 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.

“Now the minimum will be 49% for all Qatari companies … this will attract more liquidity and more room for foreign investors to invest,” said Mansoori.

In Dubai, the index edged up 0.1%, led by its most heavily traded and top percentage gainer DXB Entertainments , which jumped 4.4%.

The rise still leaves the stock down 18.5% down for the year, under pressure from financing issues amid economic slowdown in the region and geopolitical tensions.

The firm said in February that the Six Flags theme park in Dubai had been put on hold as the financing for the project was no longer available.

Developer Arabtec Holding rose 1.7% after its unit Target Engineering was awarded a construction contract for 192 million dirhams ($52.3 million).

The Abu Dhabi index traded flat with Dana Gas up 0.9% and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank down 0.5%.

Source: Reuters