Saudi edges up; Egypt hits 3-wk high

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Saudi Arabia's bourse edges up in sluggish trade as investors hesitate to increase risk with earnings season out of the way and Egypt's market rises to a three-week high.

Saudi's banking shares index eases 0.1 percent, as does the petrochemical measure.

In contrast, cement and construction shares gain.

Saudi Arabian Amiantit jumps 5.2 percent. The construction and engineering firm bought a minority stake in Fiberglass Pipe Factory through its subsidiary Amiantit Fiberglass Industries, a statement on the bourse said on Monday.

Jabal Omar rises 1.6 percent and Emaar Economic City adds 0.5 percent.

"Earnings have been reasonably good and the market is just digesting them for the time being," says Alhassan Goussous, chief executive officer at Bakheet Investment Group.

"I'm not sure if there is a short-term catalyst but the market will slowly move up as people realise the support - there is a lot of liquidity in the system and a lot of spending with the new budget."

The government set a record state budget for 2013 as high oil prices allow heavy spending on welfare and infrastructure projects. It plans to spend 820 billion riyals ($219 billion) this year.

Trading will begin on Tuesday of Northern Region Cement Co , the Capital Market Authority said in a bourse filing, after its 900 million riyals initial public offering last month. The price limit will be unrestricted for the first session.

The firm sold 90 million shares at 10 riyals each.

The kingdom's benchmark rises 0.1 percent to 7,041 points, heading for its fourth gain in the last seven sessions.

Elsewhere, Egypt's main benchmark climbs 0.8 percent to 5,736 points, its highest level since Jan. 14.

The death toll in Egypt rose to 57 on Sunday, in the bloodiest week of President Mohamed Mursi's seven months in power. But investors are buying on hopes the political turmoil will ease.

Orascom Construction Industries gains 0.7 percent, Orascom Telecom rises 0.5 percent and Egypt KuwaitHolding adds 0.8 percent.

Non-Arab foreigners are net buyers on the bourse, according to exchange data.

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