MIDEAST STOCKS-Banks and petrochemicals companies lift Saudi market
Saudi Arabia's stock market

DUBAI: Bank and petrochemical stocks helped Saudi Arabia’s index rebound from a two-week low on Thursday, buoyed by firmer oil prices and a newspaper report that building company Saudi Binladin Group could again bid for state contracts.

The news on Binladin, which is heavily in debt to local lenders, bolstered bank share prices, lifting the sector index by 1.9 percent. National Commercial Bank and Al Rajhi Bank were the biggest gainers, rising by 2.3 percent and 3 percent respectively.

Binladin was barred from new government contracts last September after a crane toppled into Mecca’s Grand Mosque during a dust storm, killing 107 people, but al-Watan quoted an unnamed source as saying that the compnay has now received a royal decree allowing it to resume bidding for state contracts.

Petrochemical stocks were also supportive as the Brent crude oil price jumped 2.6 percent to $45.76. The benchmark is up 64 pct since touching a 12-year low in January.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp, the Gulf’s largest listed company, gained 1.2 percent as the petrochemicals benchmark rose by 1.3 percent.

Riyadh’s main stock index was up 1.2 percent at 6,665 points, trimming losses since hitting a 16-week high on April 25 to 3 percent.

Overall, Saudi companies’ first-quarter earnings beat analysts’ expectations, with the impact of state subsidy cuts and other austerity measures less severe than some had expected, Reuters calculations show.

In Egypt, Cairo’s benchmark index rose 1.3 percent, rallying from a three-week low as heavyweight stocks led gains.

Commercial International Bank and Telecom Egypt were up 0.9 percent and 3.9 percent respectively.

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