MIDEAST STOCKS-Gulf markets gain after no escalation in U.S.-Iran tensions

    * Advanced Petrochemical FY profit rises
    * Aramco closes down at 34.8 riyals
    * Amanat Holdings gains on acquisition plan
    * Financials strong in Qatar
    By Maqsood Alam
    Jan 12 (Reuters) - Middle East stocks closed
higher on Sunday amid relief at no further escalation
in tensions between Iran and the United States, but
shares of Saudi Aramco retreated.
    Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump backed away
from days of angry rhetoric against Iran as the two
countries tried to defuse a crisis over the U.S.
killing of Iranian military commander Qassem
    Saudi Arabia's index rose 0.3%, led by a
5.6% jump in telecom operator Etihad Etisalat
    Advanced Petrochemical added 2.2% after
reporting a 5.9% increase in its estimated annual
profit to 759 million riyals ($202 million).
    Gains, however, were capped by losses in financial
and energy shares. Samba Financial Group
dropped 2.8%, while Saudi Aramco fell 0.6% to 34.8
    Aramco has seen selling over the past week as it
was affected by the U.S.-tensions and as investors are
scrutinising the company's prospects more closely now
that the euphoria surrounding its IPO is fading.
    On Sunday, the oil giant said it had exercised its
"greenshoe option" to sell an additional 450 million
shares, raising the size of its initial public
offering (IPO) to $29.4 billion. Aramco initially
raised a then-record $25.6 billion in its IPO in
December by selling 3 billion shares at 32
    In Qatar, Doha Bank and United
Development rose by 6.2% and 3.3%
respectively, pushing the index up by 0.6%.
    Dubai's index edged up 0.1% as its
biggest lender Emirates NBD increased 1.2%,
while Amanat Holdings closed up 1.7% after
saying it was assessing a possible acquisition of a
stake in the Middle East operations of VPS Healthcare
    Abu Dhabi's index was up 0.2%, with market
heavyweight First Abu Dhabi Bank gaining
    Outside the Gulf, Egypt's blue-chip index
gained 0.5% with Commercial International Bank Egypt
 adding 0.4%.
    Stock markets in Kuwait and Oman were closed
following the death of Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said
and will resume trading on Tuesday and Wednesday
 SAUDI ARABIA          was up 0.3% to 8,371 points
 ABU DHABI            edged up 0.2 % to 5,084 points
 DUBAI                  gained 0.1 % to 2,752 points
 QATAR                rose 0.6% to 10,509 points
 EGYPT                  was up 0.5% to 13,803 points
 BAHRAIN              inched up 0.2 % to 1,600 points
($1 = 3.7514 riyals)
 (Reporting by Maqsood Alam in Bengaluru; Editing by
Susan Fenton)

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