Saudi leads most Gulf bourses higher; Egypt down

Riyadh (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s stock market closed higher on Sunday to outperform the Gulf region, amid expectations of a lower interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve in the aftermath of the collapse of two big regional banks.

Markets are pricing in a 25 bps increase by the U.S. Federal Reserve when it meets next week, down from previous expectations for a 50 bps increase.

Most Gulf currencies are pegged to the U.S. dollar, while Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar usually mirror U.S. monetary policy changes.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index (.TASI) ended its five sessions losing streak, jumping 1.8%, the highest intraday rise since Dec 13.

The index was lifted by gains in all sectors, led by banking and materials with the world’s largest Islamic bank by assets, Al Rajhi Bank (1120.SE) climbing 3.3% and Riyad Bank (1010.SE) surging 4.2%.

Saudi’s oil giant Aramco (2222.SE) rose 0.5%, while luxury real estate developer Retal Urban Development (4322.SE) gained 1.4%.

Arabian Drilling (2381.SE) dropped 4.5% after it reported fourth-quarter net profit of 137 million riyals ($36.47 million), a drop of 66% quarter-on-quarter. However, profit was up 16% year-on-year.

Qatari Stock index (.QSI) fell marginally, extending its decline into a sixth session with the gains in finance and communications sectors weighed down by the losses in industry and materials sectors.

The index heavyweight Islamic banks Qatar Islamic Bank (QISB.QA) and Masraf Al Rayan (MARK.QA) rose 1.9% and 3.2% respectively.

But Qatar Navigation (QNNC.QA) and Qatar Fuel (QFLS.QA) slumped 6.5% and 2.3% respectively.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index (.EGX30) dropped 0.2%, extending its looses into a sixth sessions.

The index was dragged down by a 6.1% slide in Telecom Egypt(ETEL.CA) and 3.2% decline in Fawry Banking (FWRY.CA).

Shares of Cleopatra Hospital (CLHO.CA) slipped 3.1% after the health and medical services provider reported a 27% fall in fourth quarter consolidated net profit.

SAUDI ARABIA(.TASI) rose 1.8% to 10,158
QATAR(.QSI) fell 0.01% to 9,909
KUWAIT(.BKP) added 0.2% at 7,855
BAHRAIN(.BAX) ended flat at 1,897
OMAN(.MSX30) fell 0.3% to 4,872
EGYPT(.EGX30) lost 0.2% to 14,681

($1 = 3.7560 riyals)