Banks boost Saudi stock market, all major Gulf markets gain

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Saudi Arabia’s stock market rose on Tuesday, boosted by its banking shares, while all major Gulf markets rebounded from recent sell-offs, in line with Asian shares.

Saudi’s index increased 0.6 percent in early trade, with Al Rajhi Bank adding 1.2% and Saudi Basic Industries up 0.9%.

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

The index is up 8.8 percent so far this year in a rally led by foreign investors.

“The index inclusion story is (the) dominant theme ... for foreign investors on Saudi’s equity market,” said Lighthouse Research.

In the week ending May 16, foreign investors bought a net 3.9 billion riyals ($1.04 billion) of Saudi shares, nearly four times their average weekly net purchases since the start of 2019 and the 20th consecutive week of net buying, added Lighthouse.

Abu Dhabi’s index jumped 1.1 percent, led by a 1.7 percent increase in First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Dana Gas was up 1.8 percent after the energy firm said it had started drilling operations at Merak-1 well, offshore Egypt.

The stock has been surging recently after it was included in MSCI’s index. Since May 14, the stock has added 53 percent.

The Dubai index edged up 0.1 percent. National Cement Company was up 1.7 percent after news it had bought Kenya’s ARM Cement’s assets for $50 million.

Arabtec Holding rebounded 2.1 percent, snapping four straight sessions of losses on weak first-quarter earnings.

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