MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi rises on firmer oil, Egypt stagnates
The Saudi Arabian stock market
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DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s stock market edged up in early trade on Monday after global oil prices firmed, while Egypt’s bourse was sluggish after a corporate survey showed growth in business activity slowed last month.

Brent oil was up 1.2 percent at $48.70 a barrel in Asian trade and this helped to boost the Saudi stock index by 0.7 percent, with petrochemical blue chip Saudi Basic Industries gaining 1.0 percent. Oil shipper Bahri also added 1.0 percent.

Property developer Dar Al Arkan continued to rise, gaining 1.5 percent, after Sunday’s news that the government plans to convert a state-owned housing fund into a bank, the latest measure to spur housing construction.

Even miner Ma’aden, which had tumbled 13 percent in the past three weeks as commodity-related equities around the world sagged, showed some strength; it rebounded 1.8 percent.

However PetroRabigh fell 0.9 percent after it said a 50-day maintenance shutdown of its refining and petrochemical complex at Rabigh, due to start on Oct. 11, was likely to cause gross profit for the fourth quarter of this year to drop by 900 million riyals ($240 million).

Egypt’s stock index edged down 0.1 percent after a purchasing managers’ survey showed the non-oil private sector expanded only marginally in September, with growth slowing from an eight-month high in August.

Investment bank EFG Hermes downgraded its assessment of the Egyptian market to neutral and removed Commercial International Bank (CIB) and El Sewedy Electric from its list of the top 20 regional stocks. CIB fell 0.6 percent while Sewedy had not yet traded.

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