«Reuters» (JEDDAH)
Banks helped nudge stock markets in the Gulf higher on Monday with Saudi Arabian lenders, which may benefit from a potential upgrade of the kingdom by index compiler FTSE at the end of next month, outperforming. Egypt firmed on buying by foreign funds.

Late next month FTSE will announce its decision on whether to include Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in its secondary emerging market index. Analysts at Arqaam Capital and EFG Hermes believe the chances are high for a positive decision in both cases.

One of KSA’s largest listed lenders, National Commercial Bank, added 1.5 percent and Samba Financial Group rose 0.9 percent.

EFG Hermes estimates that if NCB is added to the FTSE index, and assuming implementation in two phases, it could see about $292 million of inflows while Samba's inflow could be around $203 million. The main Saudi stock benchmark Tadawl All Share Index climbed 0.51 percent to 7,262 points on Monday.

The best performers of the session on the Tadawul All Share were Saudi Indian Company Insurance, which rose 6.40% or 1.48 points to trade at 24.62 at the close. Meanwhile, Herfy Food Services Co added 4.40% or 2.20 points to end at 52.20 and Al-Tayyar Travel Group Holding Co. was up 4.20% or 1.45 points to 35.95 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Middle East Healthcare Co, which fell 2.13% or 1.40 points to trade at 64.20 at the close. Alkhaleej Training & Education Co declined 2.11% or 0.40 points to end at 18.60 and Almarai Company was down 2.07% or 1.70 points to 80.50.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Saudi Arabia Stock Exchange by 108 to 58 and 11 ended unchanged.

Elsewhere, Dubai's index strengthened in the final hour of trade to close 0.3 percent higher, but daily traded volume was the lowest since September 2015 as summer holidays, the approach of a long weekend for Eid Al-Adha, and a mediocre economic outlook in the region depressed activity.

Large to mid-sized stocks were some of the top gainers, with Dubai Islamic Bank adding 1.3 percent and Emaar Malls rising 1.2 percent.

Qatar index added 0.1 percent to 8,941 points. Kuwait index slipped 0.1 percent to 6,909 points. Bahrain index fell 0.1 percent to 1,301 points. Oman index rose 0.8 percent to 5,004 points.

Abu Dhabi's index inched up 0.1 percent in the lowest volume in three months. Large-cap developer Aldar Properties rose 0.4 percent.

Most blue-chip banks rose in Doha, including Commercial Bank, which gained 0.5 percent. The Qatar index ended a three-session loosing streak, adding 0.1 percent to 4,485 points, but it is down almost 10 percent since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and trade links with Doha on June 5.

Egypt's index regained some momentum after eight sessions of sluggish trade and rebounded 0.8 percent to 13,014 points as international investors were net buyers, bourse data showed.

Infrastructure and energy investment firm Qalaa Holdings jumped 8.9 percent after one of its subsidiaries, Asec Co for Mining, said that it had sold its stake in an Ethiopian company in a deal worth $14.5 million.