Saudi stock markets lead regional gains with blue-chip boost

Saudi stock markets led gains among largely positive Gulf markets on Sunday, bolstered by a surge in blue-chip stocks.

The Saudi index was 1.1 percent higher at 0830 GMT with Al Rajhi Bank, the kingdom’s second largest bank by assets and one of the main beneficiaries of a huge inflow of foreign money this year, rising 1.8 percent.

Another gainer was the biggest petrochemical producer, Saudi Basic Industries, which added 1.4 percent.

Such stocks have attracted foreign inflows in anticipation of the upgrade of the stock market to emerging market status. In March global index compiler FTSE Russell decided to upgrade Saudi Arabia to emerging market status, and MSCI is widely expected to make a similar decision in June.

One of the worst performers was Al Babtain Power and Telecommunication Company, which was down 7 percent. The company announced a 50.4 percent drop in first quarter profit after the market closed on Thursday.

In Abu Dhabi, Dana Gas was the most heavily traded stock and down 5.8 percent after the company said it reached an agreement with the committee representing holders of its $700 million sukuk to restructure and refinance the instruments. The move appears to end a nearly year-long legal battle in Britain and the United Arab Emirates.

Shares in Abu Dhabi’s Union National Bank fell 4.1 percent after it reported a drop in first quarter net profit to 425.6 million dirhams ($116 million), from 451.9 million dirhams a year ago. That was slightly below forecasts of SICO Bahrain and EFG Hermes.

Abu Dhabi’s index dropped 0.2 percent. In Dubai, the index was up 0.9 percent, driven by a 1.9 percent gain by Dubai Islamic Bank and a 1.2 percent climb by Emaar Properties.

Source: Reuters