Mideast's biggest banks climb on plans for foreign ownership

Mideast's biggest banks climb on plans for foreign ownership”

Shares in some other government-affiliated Qatari companies with 25 percent foreign ownership limits also surged on hopes they might take the same action.

QNB's weighting in emerging market benchmarks compiled by MSCI Inc. and FTSE Russell could increase considerably with the higher cap for foreigners, and spur passive inflows of at least $730 million, according to analysts at Arqaam Capital Ltd. and EFG-Hermes Holding.

Jamal noted that the Qatari market had pulled back sharply, leaving valuations relatively attractive, after the passing of Qatar's annual dividend system earlier this year; QNB shares were down almost 17 percent from their peak in January.

"Said QNB has been "very resilient" in the past few years, helping it overcome the "current political situation"; said investors had begun to doubt Qatar's place in the EM space, especially with Saudi and Kuwait poised for inclusion in emerging market indexes this year", which will reduce the weight of Qatar and the U.A.E.

"The market already had good conditions for a rebound when the QNB news came", he said.

Egypt's index gained 1.5 percent, with Commercial International Bank surging 2.2 percent as some investors bought to catch its annual dividend; it will go ex-dividend on March 20.

Dubai's index fell 0.7 percent despite a 4.5 percent gain by banking giant Emirates NBD.

Losing stocks outnumbered gainers in Dubai by 25 to six.

NOTE: FTSE Russell included Kuwait to its emerging markets category previous year, and is expected to announce a decision on a potential inclusion of Saudi Arabia on March 28.

The QSE main index surged 410.38 points, or 4.97 percent, to close at 8,663.04 points.

El Sewedy Electric, which had gained 5.9 percent on Monday after saying it had signed a contract with Egyptian Electricity Transmission Co to provide power transmission lines worth 2.12 billion Egyptian pounds ($121 million), last traded 10 percent higher.

SAUDI ARABIA * The index climbed 1.1 percent to 7,781 points. This is the biggest leap witnessed by QSE since January 19 when the main index had rallied 5.5 percent.

QNB, the largest lender in the Middle East and Africa by assets, jumped its maximum daily limit of 10 percent after the announcement.

Vodafone Qatar's stock, which advanced 1.8 percent, led the bourse in terms of trading volume with 3 million shares, while Qatar Navigation's stock, which levelled up 1.52 percent, topped the market in terms of liquidity with QR136.7 million.

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