MIDEAST STOCKS-Saudi, Qatar extend gains on U.S. stimulus, others retreat

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March 26 (Reuters)Major stock markets in the Gulf were mixed on Thursday, with Saudi Arabia and Qatar extending gains on hopes that a $2 trillion U.S. emergency stimulus package will shore up economic activity across the globe.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate unanimously backed a $2 trillion bill aimed at helping unemployed workers and industries hurt by the pandemic.

Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index .TASI rose 1.5%, with Al Rajhi Bank 1120.SE adding 1.9% and Saudi Basic Industries 2010.SE gaining 2.4%.

Al Moammar Information Systems 7200.SE jumped 6.6%, after receiving a purchase order worth 134.4 million riyals ($35.81 million).

The kingdom reported its second coronavirus death on Wednesday and tightened a nationwide curfew, barring travel in and out of Riyadh, the capital, and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, as well as movement between all provinces.

Saudi Chemical Company 2230.SE declined 3.9%, following a steep fall in annual profit.

In Qatar, the index .QSI was up 0.7%, supported by a 3.4% rise in Qatar Insurance QINS.QA and a 1.8% gain in Commercial Bank COMB.QA.

The Dubai index .DFMGI declined 1.7%, driven down by a 2.6% fall in Emirates NBD Bank ENBD.DU and a 1.8% slide in sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank DISB.DU.

In Abu Dhabi, which cut the daily maximum allowable decline in shares to 5%, the index .ADI eased 2.7%. First Abu Dhabi Bank FAB.AD tumbled 4.3%, while Emirates Telecommunications ETISALAT.AD was down 1.8%.

The United Arab Emirates said it will restrict the movement of traffic and people from 8 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Thursday to 6 a.m. on Sunday as it disinfects public transport and public facilities, state news agency WAM said on Wednesday.

($1 = 3.7535 riyals)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru; Editing by Jan Harvey)

((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))

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