DUBAI, (Reuters) – National Bank of Kuwait rose to a 22-month high on Sunday, extending its gains following reports that the government will provide a guarantee to local lenders for a $104 billion development plan.
Most Middle East markets, with the exception of Qatar, closed flat or lower, as oil prices and global markets fell on Friday due to concerns about the economic recovery.
Kuwait has given the green light to the country’s banks to finance the 30 billion dinar ($104.1 billion) plan aimed at boosting the role of the private sector in its state dominated economy and help it become a regional financial centre, newspapers said on Thursday.
The plan, which started on April 1, includes building new ports and cities, and investments to raise oil and gas production.
“This has been a key government objective and this decision is a step in the right direction in terms of creating a larger non-oil economy,” Beltone said in a research note.
“The decision is also a positive one for banks since it will increase the banking sector’s overall activity,” it added.
Banking stocks ended higher for a second straight session. Gulf Bank rose 2.1 percent, while National Bank of Kuwait rose 3 percent to hit its highest closing price since November 2008.
Some of the gains were offset by Zain, which fell 1.7 percent.
Zain Saudi Arabia 7030.SE, the kingdom’s third mobile operator in which Zain holds a 25 percent stake, offered shareholders to cut its capital by almost half to cover accumulated losses, and later launch a rights issue to raise it by nearly 60 percent.
Saudi Arabia’s index was largely flat amid thin volumes and in the absence of any major positive catalysts.
The index gained 0.01 percent. Zain Saudi fell 3 percent.
In Dubai, ports operator DP World fell for a first session in six, stalling an earnings-driven rally. It fell 4.4 percent, after hitting a 15-week high on Thursday. The Nasdaq Dubai-listed stock is up 16.3 percent year-to-date.
On Wednesday, DP World reported a 10 percent rise in first-half net profit, boosted by a recovery of container volumes.
On the Dubai Financial Market, the index eased 0.03 percent. Emirates NBD fell 1.2 percent and Union Properties lost 1.4 percent, while telecoms operator du advanced 3.4 percent to a two month high.
Abu Dhabi’s index inched down 0.03 percent as volumes fall to their lowest level for at least two years.
Qatar’s index gained 0.9 percent to 7,179 points, advancing for a fifth straight session, boosted by bluechips Qatar National Bank and Industries Qatar which gained 1.4 and 1.3 percent respectively.
“The positive momentum remains in the market while it is above the psychological level at 7,000 points,” said Global Investment House in a note to investors.
* The measure advanced 0.05 percent to 6,685 points.
* The benchmark inched up 0.01 percent to 6,091 points.
* The benchmark fell 0.03 percent to 1,492 points.
* The benchmark rose 0.9 percent to 7,179 points.
* The index edged lower 0.03 percent to 2,506 points.
* The index .MSI fell 0.3 percent to 6,308 points.
* The index .BAX was unchanged at 1,409 points.
* The index .EGX30 fell 0.1 percent to 6,381 points.
($1=0.2881 Kuwaiti dinar)