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The Saudi wealth fund has some solid ambitions and that's fuelling more than a rally. Image Credit: Reuters

Most Gulf markets traded higher on Monday as prospects brightened with governments implementing measures designed to get economies back on track.

Investors were upbeat after Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund revealed plans to double its assets to 4 trillion riyals by 2025, while aiming to invest 3 trillion riyals in newly sectors over the next decade. Additionally, the UAE government made public its strategy to develop a bond market in the local currency, aimed at stimulating the country's financial and banking sector.

On a roll

The Dubai Financial Market (DFM) ended the day higher after rising 0.3 per cent with lenders leading the sector-wide gains and Emirates NBD closing 1.7 per cent up. Outside of the financial sector, Dubai-based Emirates Reem Investment Company – which last month changed its name from Emirates Refreshments – surged around 15 per cent, which is the maximum single-day gains permitted during a stock’s trading session.

New investment streams

The company has seen a sustained rise after shareholders approved early December a plan to raise foreign ownership limit to 49 per cent. The bottled water and soft drink bottling firm - earlier known as Jeema Mineral Water Company – also announced new activities, from real estate investment to mining, healthcare and farming.

A further boost was the decision to raise authorized capital increase to Dh600 million. Its shares are trading almost 164 per cent higher so far this year.

The Abu Dhabi main index edged 0.1 per cent up, bolstered by telecom giant Etisalat which gained 0.9 per cent, and traded 9 per cent higher on January 19 after it unveiled a plan to raise foreign ownership.

Banks provide impetus

Saudi Arabia's main benchmark rose 0.2 per cent after declining for four consecutive sessions, lifted mostly by heavyweight banks with National Commercial Bank gaining 0.6 per cent. Saudi Telecom joined the rally with 1.3 per cent.

Kuwait's premier index traded 0.3 per cent up as banks added to gains after getting central bank nod to resume distributing dividends to shareholders. The country’s key lenders - National Bank of Kuwait and Ahli United Bank - were up 0.6 and 0.9 per cent, respectively.

Banks also led in Bahrain, which rose 0.6 per cent, as Khaleeji Commercial Bank jumped 7.8 per cent and Ahli United Bank 1.8 per cent. The Qatar Exchange index dropped 0.3 per cent, weighed down by lenders. Qatar Commercial Bank’s stock was lower 2.2 per cent, while Qatar National Bank did so by 0.6 per cent.

Exposure worries

Oman's 30-company index was also dragged by lenders, where almost all its banking stocks dropped after announcing their exposure to a defaulter firm Darvesh Group. Sohar International Bank declined 3.3 per cent, while Bank Muscat shed 0.5 per cent.