MIDEAST STOCKS Most Gulf bourses ease on oil price dip, Saudi gains

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Major stock markets in the Gulf were subdued in early trade on Monday, amid falling oil prices, although the Saudi index bucked the trend to trade higher.

Oil prices fell about $1, after the world’s top exporter Saudi Arabia slashed crude contract prices for Asia over the weekend, reflecting well-supplied global markets and concerns over the outlook for demand.

Dubai’s main share index dropped 0.5%, weighed down by a 0.7% fall in Emaar Properties and a 1.4% decline in its unit Emaar Malls.

In Abu Dhabi, the index fell 0.1%, with telecoms firm Etisalat losing 1%.

But Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries added 0.5% after divesting a 100% shareholding in Gulf Inject.

The deal comes as part of the company’s strategy to strengthen its core product portfolio and divest from non-core activities.

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates plans to launch 50 new economic initiatives to boost the country’s competitiveness and attract 550 billion dirhams ($150 billion) in foreign direct investment in the next nine years, government officials said on Sunday. read more

The projects, a few of which were unveiled on Sunday, include investing in technology and creating new visas to attract residents and skilled workers.

The Qatari benchmark edged down 0.1%, with Qatar Fuel shares losing 0.8% and Commercial Bank was down 0.5%.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index gained 0.3%, driven by a 0.7% rise in Al Rajhi Bank and a 0.6% increase in Saudi Telecom Company (STC).

Arabian Internet and Communications Services Co, a unit of STC, set an indicative price range for its initial public offering, aiming to raise as much as 3.6 billion riyals ($959.92 million). read more

STC unit’s IPO is among a spate of deals hitting the Saudi Arabian exchange this year including Acwa Power’s more than $1 billion IPO and another offering from Saudi Tadawul Group.

But, oil giant Saudi Aramco was down 0.3% while the energy index eased 0.2%.

Reuters

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