MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf little changed in early trade, oil price deters activity – Reuters

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Gulf stock markets were little
changed in early trade on Sunday as low oil prices, with Brent
crude just above $47 a barrel, deterred buying and diminished
liquidity.

The Saudi stock index rose 0.2 percent. MSCI will
announce on Tuesday whether it is adding Saudi Arabia to a list
for possible upgrade to emerging market status, which could
attract fresh inflows of foreign money.

Some stocks expected to benefit from such flows rose, with
Saudi British Bank climbing 3.3 percent to its
highest level since early January.

The Saudi labour ministry said at the weekend that it was
working to transfer around 8,000 remaining workers at
financially troubled construction company Saudi Oger to other
firms. A spokesman for Oger could not be reached for comment,
while a source close to the company said there was no decision
to close it down.

Most Saudi banks are exposed to Oger debt but many have
already taken partial provisions for it, while any wind-up
process could be prolonged. Bank shares in general did not
appear to move in reaction to the Oger news, though National
Commercial Bank was down 0.8 percent.

Dubai’s stock index dropped 0.4 percent as Emaar
Properties pulled back 0.8 percent.

But Union Properties, the most heavily traded
stock, gained 2.5 percent after saying it had entered an
agreement with Al Ramz Capital to provide liquidity for its
shares. Al Ramz is permitted to own up to 5 percent of the
company’s shares under the deal.

Qatar, which has been hurt by the sanctions against
Doha by other Arab states, dropped 0.8 percent in a broad-based
decline; 26 stocks fell and 10 rose.

Doha Bank dropped 2.9 percent after the exchange
said subscriptions to 3.3 million shares in the bank, which had
been unsubscribed in its capital increase, had been completed.
(Reporting by Andrew Torchia, editing by Louise Heavens)