RIYADH: Stocks in Saudi Arabia, the region’s biggest equity market, rose for a third day boosted by gains in the kingdom’s largest lender by market capitalisation. Benchmark indexes in other GCC markets also edged higher in sluggish trade with the exception of Abu Dhabi’s measure, which ended flat. Tadawul All Share Index (TASI) closed trade 0.4 per cent higher at 7,209.24, helped by a 0.9 per cent increase in Al Rajhi Bank shares. The lender, which accounts for 12.5 per cent weighting on the Saudi measure, the most among the 175 index members, closed at its highest level since July 19.
Tadawul’s 12-member banking gauge also climbed 0.5 per cent. However, Saudi British Bank shares fell 0.7 per cent, after climbing 3.6 per cent the previous trading day last Friday. The bank said it will buy HSBC’s stake in SABB Takaful for 117.8 million Saudi riyals (Dh115.3m). The lender will hold 65 per cent of the share capital of the Islamic insurer after completion of the transaction, it said in a statement on Sunday. “For banks in the region, in general, even if profits are a bit lower, even if provisions are higher, I still don’t see we are in trouble in terms of results. We are just adjusting to a new normal,” Nabil Al Rantisi, the managing director of Abu Dhabi-based Mena Corp Financial Services, told Bloomberg. Shares of some of the smaller Saudi insurance firms fell following regulatory bans on policies after discrepancies in vehicle insurance agreements were discovered, according to statements filed to the stock exchange.
Arabian Shield slumped 7.7 per cent, while Malath Insurance declined 4.5 per cent. In the UAE, Abu Dhabi’s benchmark index closed flat at 4,492.6. Oil and gas exploration and investment firm Taqa, slipped 1.6 per cent. Dubai’s DFM General Index rose 0.4 per cent to 3,615.4 points. Qatar’s QE Index added 0.3 per cent, helped by gains in Industries Qatar, which climbed 0.9 per cent. Foreign Deposits of Qatari banks have declined 7.9 per cent in July as Doha’s tiff with the quartet of the Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt continues. The bloc of Arab nations cut ties with Qatar on June 5, which has put its economy and its banking sector under pressure. Qatar which supplies about a third of the world’s total liquefied natural gas (LNG), has also told its banks to tap international investors to raise financing, instead of mainly relying on government funding. The move is aimed at avoiding further strain on domestic liquidity, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Elsewhere in the region, Oman’s gauge rose 0.5 per cent as Omantel gained 2.8 per cent in Muscat. The shares of telecommunications firm fell 3.6 per cent last week after its announced plans to purchase 9.84 per cent stake in Kuwait’s Zain for US$846m. Main indexes in Kuwait’s and Bahrain added 0.2 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively.