Reuters – A rebound in oil prices and global equities boosted Middle East stock markets on Thursday, though trading volumes were modest because of the absence of many foreign investors for Christmas and the approach of Saudi Arabia’s budget announcement.
The Saudi Tadawul All-Share Index edged up 0.1 percent to 6,942 points, closing well off its intra-day high of 6,999 points.
Much activity focused on second- or third-tier speculative stocks favored by local retail investors such as Saudi Printing and Packaging Co, up 9.4 percent, and Saudi Fisheries, up 1.9 percent.
Blue chips underperformed and petrochemical stocks were weak, with Saudi Basic Industries dropping 1.2 percent.
The Saudi state budget for 2016, expected to be released on Monday, looks likely to feature substantial spending cuts and new revenue measures to cope with a deficit caused by low oil prices.
One possible revenue-generating measure, which could be included in the budget or follow in subsequent months, is an increase in natural feedstock prices to industry, which would hurt petrochemical producers’ margins.
Kingdom Holding surged 3.8 percent after saying it had led a group of investors that bought 5.3 percent of US ride-hailing firm Lyft Inc. for $247.7 million.
Qatar’s index added 0.4 percent on the back of a strong rebound by drilling rig provider Gulf International Services, which was the most heavily traded stock and gained 5.3 percent.
Qatar International Islamic Bank rose 1.6 percent after saying it had signed an agreement with Moroccan bank CIH to establish a bank in Morocco — marking the Qatari institution’s entry into the Moroccan banking sector.
Egypt’s stock market, reopening after a public holiday, gained 0.6 percent.
Orascom Telecom, up 9.5 percent, has been strong since Commercial International Bank said last week it had accepted a 1 billion Egyptian pound ($128 million) offer from Orascom to buy its investment bank subsidiary CI Capital.
The UAE, Kuwait and Oman bourses were shut for public holidays.

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