MIDEAST STOCKS-Financials buoy most of Gulf; Qatar trades flat
Jan 16 (Reuters) - Most major Gulf markets were up in early trading on Thursday, led by their financial stocks amid rising oil prices, while the Qatar market traded flat as bank and industrial shares moved sideways.
Oil prices rose on Thursday after the signing of an initial Sino-U.S. trade deal that sets the stage for a surge in Chinese purchases of American energy products, while U.S. crude inventories fell more than expected.
Saudi Arabia's index .TASI rose 0.3% with National Commercial Bank 1180.SE, the kingdom's largest lender, adding 0.4% and Samba Financial Group 1090.SE increasing 0.6%.
Middle Eastern fund managers plan to increase investments in Saudi Arabia, while keeping exposure in the rest of the region at current levels, according to a Reuters poll.
Five of nine managers polled said they would increase their investments in Saudi Arabia, anticipating favourable policy reforms and market opportunities.
Elsewhere, state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco 2222.SE slipped 0.3% to 34.6 riyals ($9.22).
On Wednesday, JP Morgan started coverage of the energy giant with an "overweight" rating and a price target of 37 riyals ($9.86), a stronger recommendation than Goldman Sachs' "neutral", Morgan Stanley's "underweight" and HSBC's "hold" ratings.
In Dubai, the index .DFMGI added 0.6% as Emirates NBD Bank ENBD.DU advanced 1.9% and DXB Entertainment DXBE.DU was up 1.1%.
Abu Dhabi's index .ADI edged up 0.2%, supported by a 0.4% gain in the country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank FAB.AD.
However, the Qatari index .QSI was flat with Qatar Islamic Bank QISB.QA gaining 1%, a day after it reported a rise in annual profit, while Industries Qatar IQCD.QA opened 0.9% down.
($1 = 3.7513 riyals)
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru Editing by Gareth Jones)
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