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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Mena listed equities receive $1bn in net foreign investments in January 

Saudi Arabia emerges as top destination with Al Rajhi Bank attracting $297m

The net foreign inflows into the Middle East and North African (Mena) stocks climbed to the $1bn (Dh3.67bn) in January, the highest level of investments into listed equities. Al Rajhi Bank was the top investment pick. Ahmed Yosri / The National
The net foreign inflows into the Middle East and North African (Mena) stocks climbed to the $1bn (Dh3.67bn) in January, the highest level of investments into listed equities. Al Rajhi Bank was the top investment pick. Ahmed Yosri / The National

The net foreign inflows into Middle East and North Africa (Mena) stocks soared to $1bn (Dh3.67bn) in January, the highest level of investments into listed equities since April 2015 as regional economies pick up and the earnings improve.

Flows in January surged from $69 million in December, according to an EFG-Hermes report released on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia, the top Arab economy and the home to the region’s biggest bourse, was the hotspot of investment

with net inflows of $703m including swaps and transactions by qualified foreign investors. The UAE, received $169m of net inflows, mostly into Abu Dhabi, while Egypt, attracted $100m - highest level since April last year, the Cario-based investment bank said in the report.

This year "is expected to be an eventful year for MENA from an index news flow perspective, and in aggregate we expect around $1.2bn worth of index trades in 2018," said analyst Mohamad Al Hajj in the report.

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The net foreign inflows in Kuwait reached $13m after two months of outflows, while Oman saw $7m of net foreign outflows in January, taking the total outflows to $75 in the past eight consecutive months. GCC investors were net sellers with $5m in aggregate despite being net buyers of $57m in Saudi Arabia as they net sold Qatar ($47m) and Dubai ($18m).

Financial services and the petrochemicals stocks lured most investments with Al Rajhi Bank being the top pick. The lender, the biggest bank in the kingdom in terms of market capitalisation, received $297m and was on EFG’s most-bought Mena stocks list. Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, the biggest Middle Eastern chemicals producer, National Commercial Bank, and Yansab were among the top-10 net bought Mena names in January with $123m of inflows combined.

In the UAE, foreign investors bought $177m of stocks including Emaar properties, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Etisalat, and Emaar Malls, according to the EFG-Hermes report.