MIDEAST STOCKS: Markets advance on hopes of reduced Gulf tensions

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DUBAI/RIYADH

All major Gulf stock markets closed higher on Sunday on hopes that a reported visit by Qatar’s foreign minister to Riyadh would ease a rift between Gulf states.

Qatar’s foreign minister made an unannounced visit to Saudi Arabia, sources said. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt had cut diplomatic and trade links with Qatar in June 2017, accusing Doha of backing terrorism. Qatar denies the charge.

OPEC and allied oil producers, meanwhile, will consider further oil supply cuts when their leaders meet in Vienaa this week, Iraq’s oil minister said on Sunday, in a move expected to support oil prices.

In Saudi Arabia, the benchmark index was up 0.6%, with Al Rajhi Bank advancing 1.6% and Saudi Basic Industries up 0.9%.

Ataa Educational added 2.2% after a non-binding memorandum of understanding to acquire 92.1% stake in Kingdom Schools. The Qatar index firmed by 0.4% to end a three-day losing streak. Qatar National Bank, the Gulf’s largest lender, gained 1% and Mesaieed Petrochemical Holding added 1.5%.

The Kuwaiti index closed 1.8% up, outperforming its Gulf peers, as Kuwait Financial House (KFH) and Boubyan Bank added 4% and 2.1% respectively.

The Bahrain central bank approved KFH’s acquisition of Ahli United Bank, while Boubyan confirmed it is in advanced talks to buy all remaining shares in BLME Holding.

Egypt’s blue-chip index fell 0.5%, with Qalaa Holdings shedding 4.3% after brokerage Pharos Research on Thursday cut its valuation of the investment company to 2.70 Egyption pounds per share from 3.29 pounds.

Orascom Investment Holding slipped 2.4% as its third-quarter net profit declined to 62.6 million Egyptian pounds ($3.90 million) from 1.22

billion pounds a year earlier. The Dubai and Abu Dhabi stock markets are closed for three-day public holidays and will resume trading on Dec. 4.

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