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Saudi bourse outperforms most Gulf markets

Saudi Arabia's stock market ended higher on Wednesday, buoyed by gains in financial shares, while the Dubai index snapped three sessions of losses.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index (.TASI) advanced 1%, extending gains from the previous day, boosted by a 2.9% rise in Al Rajhi Bank (1120.SE) and a 4.7% leap in SABIC Agri-Nutrients (2020.SE).

On Tuesday, the index ended three sessions of declines triggered by tensions with Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis, who claimed responsibility on Nov. 20 for drone attacks in several parts of the kingdom, including at Saudi Aramco facilities in Jeddah. On Wednesday, the Saudi-led coalition said it was launching air strikes on "legitimate" military targets in Yemen's capital Sanaa and asked civilians not to approach the targeted areas.

Among other gainers, Amana Cooperative Insurance Co (8310.SE) surged 10% after it received Saudi Central Bank's approval on a potential merger with Enaya Cooperative Insurance (8311.SE). Enaya shares closed 10% higher.

Dubai's main share index (.DFMGI) gained 0.4%, driven by a 5.7% jump in Dubai Financial Market (DFM.DU).

Dubai Financial Market's share price has more than doubled this month following the emirate's plans to launch a 2 billion dirham ($545 million) market-maker fund and initial public offerings of state-backed companies.

The listing plans are aimed at making Dubai a more competitive market against bigger bourses in the region, such those in Saudi Arabia and neighbouring Abu Dhabi, that are seeing larger flotations and strong liquidity.

In Abu Dhabi, the index (.ADI) eased 0.1%, weighed by a 1% fall in conglomerate International Holding (IHC.AD).

The Qatari index (.QSI) slipped 0.1%, with petrochemical maker Industries Qatar (IQCD.QA) losing 0.6%.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index (.EGX30) lost 0.2%, weighed down by a 0.6% decline in top lender Commercial International Bank Egypt (COMI.CA).

Meanwhile, Egypt's economy grew by 9.8% in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2021-22 that began in July, compared with 0.7% in the same period last year, a cabinet statement quoted the planning minister as saying on Wednesday.

($1 = 3.6726 UAE dirham)

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