MIDEAST-STOCKS-Saudi leads as Gulf markets close higher; Egypt hits four-year high

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By Md Manzer Hussain

- Stock markets in the Gulf ended higher on Monday, led by the Saudi index on strong corporate earnings, while investors awaited the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy meeting this week for further cues on its interest rate trajectory.

Saudi Arabia's benchmark stock index .TASI ended five- session losing streak and rose 1.1%, the highest intraday rise in nearly a month with most of its constituents posting gains.

Al Rajhi Bank 1120.SE, the world's largest Islamic lender, advanced 1.8% after it reported a 6% rise in quarterly net profit.

Among other gainers, Saudi National Bank 1180.SE, the Kingdom's largest bank by assets, gained 1.1% after it posted a 0.4% rise in quarterly net profit.

The Qatari benchmark index .QSI was up for a second straight session and ended 0.8% higher, with Qatar Islamic Bank QISB.QA rising 1.1% and Industries Qatar IQCD.QA gaining 2%.

Among other gainers, Qatar Gas Transport QGTS.QA rose 2.4% after the LNG shipping firm posted an increase of 6.1% in quarterly net profit on Sunday.

Elsewhere, QatarEnergy, the world's top LNG exporter, signed agreement with China State Shipbuilding Corp (CSSC) to build 18 ultra-large ships at a cost of $6 billion.

Dubai's benchmark index .DFMGI rose 0.3%, supported by gains in communication, industry and finance sectors with toll operator Salik Company SALIK.DU rising 1.5% and Mashreqbank MASB.DU adding 2.2%.

In Abu Dhabi, the benchmark index .FTFADGI was up for a second consecutive session and ended 0.2% higher with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank ADIB.AD rising 1.4% and Aldar Properties ALDAR.AD climbing 4.1%, the highest intraday increase in nearly six months.

The emirate's biggest developer, Aldar's net profit leaped 88% from a year earlier to 1.57 billion dirhams ($427.5 million).

The U.S Fed's two-day policy meeting begins on Tuesday. While the central bank is expected to keep rates on hold, the focus will be on its rate outlook.

Most Gulf currencies are pegged to the dollar, and any U.S. monetary policy change is usually mimicked by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index .EGX30 snapped four straight session of losses and surged 5.57%, the highest intraday climb in four years with all stocks in the green.

Talaat Mostafa TMGH.CA rose 13.7% and Commercial International BankCOMI.CA advanced 6.1%.


.TASI rose 1.17% to 12,369


.BKP added 0.4% to 7,683


.QSI gained 0.8% to 9,744


.EGX30 advanced 5.57% to 26,011


.BAX added 0.1% to 2,027


.MSX30 was up 0.3% to 4,775


.FTFADGI rose 0.2% to 9,063


.DFMGI added 0.3% to 4,161

(Reporting by Md Manzer Hussain; Editing by Vijay Kishore)


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