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Saudi National Bank buoys Saudi shares; other markets mixed

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(Reuters) – Major Gulf markets ended mixed on Sunday, with the Saudi index boosted by gains in its top lender following a dividend proposal and new board appointees.

FILE PHOTO: A Saudi trader observes the stock market on monitors at Falcom stock exchange agency in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index rose 0.7%, buoyed by a 3.6% jump in Saudi National Bank, previously known as National Commercial Bank.

The lender on Sunday appointed Ammar Abdul Wahed Al Khudiry as chairman, while Saeed Mohammed Alghamdi was named as managing director and CEO.

In a separate bourse filing, the lender said it would pay out more than 3.58 billion riyals ($955 million) in dividends to shareholders.

On Thursday, National Commercial Bank and Samba Financial Group announced the formal completion of their merger to create the largest banking entity in the kingdom.

In Abu Dhabi, the index added 0.2%, helped by a 2.5% rise in International Holding and a 1.6% gain in Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB).

ADIB has provided structured Islamic financing for Albilad Capital’s 87 million pound acquisition of PWC’s headquarters in Northern Ireland.

Dubai’s main share index fell 0.3%, hit by a 3% slide in Emirates Integrated Telecommunications.

Dubai aims to increase the contribution of creative arts to the emirate’s GDP to 5% from 2.6% within the next five years, Dubai’s ruler said on Saturday.

Dubai has made several moves in recent months to make the emirate more regionally and globally competitive.

In Qatar, the benchmark eased 0.2%, with Qatar National Bank, the Gulf’s largest lender, losing 0.2%.

Elsewhere, Qatar Navigation, a top Doha-based shipping and logistics group, retreated 2.4%.

Qatar’s economy contracted by 3.9% in the fourth quarter of 2020, government data showed, with transportation and storage activity plummeting 32.8% and construction down nearly 5%.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt’s blue-chip index retreated 1.3% as most of the stocks on the index were in negative territory including Commercial International Bank, which was down 3.5%.

SAUDI ARABIA rose 0.7% to 9,963

ABU DHABI added 0.2% to 5,953

DUBAI down 0.3% to 2,550

QATAR lost 0.2% to 10,441

EGYPT fell 1.3% to 10,417

BAHRAIN gained 0.2% to 1,458

OMAN eased 0.1% to 3,663

KUWAIT was up 0.2% to 6,385

($1 = 3.7503 riyals)

Editing by Hugh Lawson

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