Saudi stocks rise for the fourth day, UAE markets retreat

The Saudi index has gained over 13 per cent year-to-date, outperforming other major Gulf peers

Saudi Arabian shares rose for a fourth straight day on Tuesday on expectations of further capital inflows into the market, while Abu Dhabi and Dubai fell after rising in recent sessions.

The Saudi index was up 0.4 per cent in early trading. Financials were the biggest boost with Al Rajhi Bank and Alinma Bank gaining 1 per cent each. Saudi Telecom traded 1.3 per cent higher.

The index has gained over 13 per cent 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 3.1 per cent after it renewed a vehicle insurance contract with Arab National Bank for a year with premiums from the deal expected to exceed 5 per cent of the firm’s total annual sales.

The Abu Dhabi index fell 0.4 per cent after rising in five of last six sessions, with all financial shares sliding.

First Abu Dhabi Bank, the United Arab Emirates’ largest lender, was down 0.5 per cent and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank slipped 1.1 per cent.

Qatar this week placed further restrictions on First Abu Dhabi Bank as it continues a probe into alleged currency manipulation begun after the UAE and other Arab states launched a boycott against Qatar in mid-2017.

The Regulatory Authority of Qatar Financial Center said on Sunday it was prohibiting the bank from undertaking any new business for customers of its Doha branch. FAB has denied the charges of currency manipulation.

In Dubai, the index was down 0.3 per cent after three days of successive gains, pushed lower by real estate and financial stocks.

The emirate’s blue-chip developer Emaar Properties shed 0.7 per cent, while Dubai Islamic Bank decreased 0.4 per cent. The lender rose in the last session after its board recommended the acquisition of private lender Noor Bank.