Saudi stock market rises after government reshuffle

Saudi Arabia's stock market rose in early trade on Sunday after the king announced a sweeping reorganisation of the economic policy-making apparatus, while most other Gulf bourses were firm.

The Saudi stock index climbed 1.0 percent in the first 15 minutes. Petrochemical shares were particularly strong with Saudi Basic Industries up 1.2 percent.

The Saudi reorganisation replaced the oil minister and central bank governor and restructured some major ministries.

Many fund managers think key questions remain over Saudi Arabia's economic reforms, including how they can be financed and the degree to which they can be implemented, but local investors have been reacting bullishly to reform announcements.

State utility Saudi Electric climbed 5.4 percent. Saturday's reshuffle moved the electricity portfolio to a new Energy, Industry and Natural Resources Ministry under Khaled al-Falih, chairman of state oil company Aramco; this could give fresh impetus to a restructuring of Saudi Electric, which has been discussed for years with little progress.

Dubai's index gained 0.8 percent to 3,332 points, bouncing from near technical support on the late March lows of 3,248-3,253 points.

GFH Financial rose 1.4 percent; it has been gaining since late last week, when it said it had signed a preliminary letter of intent with Abu Dhabi's Eshraq Properties, under which GFH might sell real estate assets to Eshraq in exchange for Eshraq shares.

Abu Dhabi's index edged down 0.1 percent although Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank rebounded for a second day from a slump following its first-quarter earnings. The stock rose 1.3 percent.

Qatar edged up 0.1 percent as Dlala Brokerage added 3.0 percent.

Kuwait's Burgan Bank rose 1.5 percent after reporting an 18.5 percent fall in first-quarter net profit to 14.3 million dinars ($47.66 million); HSBC had forecast the bank would make 12.68 million dinars. Kuwait's index climbed 0.3 percent.

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