MIDEAST STOCKS-Regional markets may diverge; economic data boosts Egypt
Egyptian Exchange - YOUM7 (Archive)

DUBAI: Regional markets could diverge on Monday, with bourses in the oil-exporting Gulf again likely to be subdued because of further declines in crude prices while Egypt may be boosted by positive economic data.

Brent crude was down 29 cents at $42.70 per barrel at 0450 GMT after OPEC abandoned a production ceiling in its latest policy meeting, which added to downward pressure on oil prices.

Saudi Arabia’s index fell 0.1 percent to 7,261 points on Sunday in thin trading. The benchmark has held above the psychologically important level of 7,000 points for the past 12 sessions, rallying from a 35-month closing low of 6,881 in mid-November, and may continue to trade sideways until there is more policy clarity from Riyadh.

King Salman is expected to deliver a speech to the Shura Council, an advisory body, on Dec. 23, according to Maal, a respected Saudi economic website. Local equity traders expect the king to outline a five-year economic plan sometime in December.

Upbeat economic data helped Egypt’s stock index rise 0.9 percent to 6,837 points on Sunday. A break above 7,000 could spur buyers to enter the market more aggressively, said a Cairo-based trader.

The Planning Ministry revised its gross domestic product (GDP) target for the current fiscal year to 5.5 percent from 5 percent on Saturday, revealing the economy grew 4.2 percent in the 2014/2015 fiscal year, up from 2.2 percent the previous year.

Foreign investors continued to be net sellers of Cairo stocks on Sunday, according to bourse data, despite attempts by the central bank to ease fears a dollar shortage will worsen.

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