Saudi Arabia’s stock market rises after ending Yemen air strikes

Saudi Arabia's stock market rose in early trade on Wednesday after the Riyadh government said it had ended a campaign of air strikes against Yemen's Houthi rebels. Egypt's market remained soft.

Gulf markets lost a few percent each after the military intervention began last month, and investors now see its completion as a positive factor.

Saudi Arabia's index edged up 0.4 percent to 9,598 points as most stocks in the kingdom climbed. Telecommunications operator Zain Saudi's jumped 3.1 percent after announcing its first-quarter loss had narrowed to 257 million riyals ($68.5 million) from 318 million riyals a year earlier.

Two analysts surveyed by Reuters had forecast Zain Saudi would post losses of 270.1 million and 289.4 million riyals.

Blue-chip petrochemical firm Saudi Basic Industries rose 1.5 percent and lender Samba Financial Group , another main support for the benchmark, climbed 1.8 percent.

But Saudi Electricity Co, the Gulf's largest utility firm, fell 0.5 percent after reporting that its net loss for the first quarter more than doubled to 1.94 billion riyals ($517.4 million). This was much worse than NCB Capital's forecast of a net loss of 1.27 billion riyals.

The Saudi index faces major technical resistance in the 9,572-9,745 point area, where the 200-day average roughly coincides with the March peak, and has been struggling in that area for three days.

Egypt's bourse also edged up shortly after opening but then gave up its gains and slipped 0.3 percent as most stocks fell.

The market has been gloomy since the adoption early this month of bylaws covering new taxes on capital gains and dividends which, according to some market players, are making Cairo less appealing to investors compared with other bourses in the region.

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