Mideast Stocks: Major Gulf markets gain as financial shares rise

SectorFinancial Markets

Major stock markets rose in early trade on Monday, with gains in National Commercial Bank and Samba Financial Group helping the Saudi index after they signed a binding merger agreement.The benchmark index in Saudi Arabia gained 0.2%, with Samba Financial Group rising 2.7%, while National Commercial Bank (NCB) was up 1.7%.National Commercial Bank, the kingdom's biggest lender, entered a binding merger agreement with smaller lender Samba Financial Group to create a combined entity with 837 billion riyals ($223.13 billion) in assets, NCB said on Sunday. Low oil prices and weak economic growth are driving bank consolidation across the Gulf.Dubai's main share index rose 0.4%, with blue-chip developer Emaar Properties gaining 1.5% and it unit Emaar Malls was up 2.1%.Dubai's non-oil private sector expanded for a third consecutive month in September ...read more...