* Saudi index up 9 pct in 2019, outperforming Gulf peers * Saudi's entry to FTSE Russell emerging index on March 18 * Kuwait index jumps on banking rally * Dubai rebounds after last week's profit-taking (Adds revised Egypt index closing prices) By Saeed Azhar DUBAI, March 3 (Reuters) - Saudi stocks ended higher on Sunday, helped by optimism over fund inflows ahead of the entry by the Gulf's biggest market to the FTSE Russell's emerging market index in a little more than two weeks. The Tadawul main index was up 0.5 percent, led by financial stocks. Samba Financial Group rose 1.1 percent and Al Rajhi Bank climbed 0.4 percent. Al Tayyar Travel Group surged 5.7 percent as investors looked beyond its 2018 full-year loss to take comfort from its plans to raise 3 billion riyals ($800 million) in fresh capital. One trader, who asked not to be named, said speculation around a possible takeover of Dubai-based ride-hailing firm Careem by Uber Technologies is also fuelling gains in Al Tayyar's stocks, given the company's minority stake in Careem. Saudi Arabia's stock exchange expects passive fund inflows of $15 billion to $20 billion this year as it gears up for inclusion in emerging market benchmarks, its chief executive told Reuters on Thursday. "The first phase of FTSE inclusion should drive in 10 percent of the estimated total $6 billion in passive flows into the Saudi market," said Vrajesh Bhandari, a senior portfolio manager at Al Mal Capital. He said bigger moves are expected when global index provider MSCI adds Saudi stocks to its global benchmark in two tranches in May and August, but he cautioned that the Saudi market's valuation appears rich. The Saudi index has gained about 9 percent this year and is outperforming its Gulf peers, with its shares trading at nearly 17 times earnings. Bhandari said the Saudi market's rise could be capped by a slower earnings growth compared with other emerging markets. Saudi stocks will be the largest Middle East market in the FTSE Emerging Index with an overall weighting of 2.7 percent, according to the index-compiler FTSE Russell said. The inclusion will happen in several tranches and will be completed by December this year. The first 25 percent tranche will be added from March 18, according to the FTSE Russell document. Dubai stocks were up 0.3, rebounding from a sell-off on Friday when profit-taking set in after a sharp rally in property stocks on strong fourth-quarter earnings at companies linked to Emaar Properties. Shares of DAMAC Properties jumped by 5.8 percent and Emaar Malls rose 1.7 percent. Although the Dubai index has rallied this year, led by strong fourth-quarter results at real estate firms, an expected further fall in property prices is capping gains. The Kuwaiti index gained 0.8 percent fueled by banking stocks. Burgan Bank ended 1.9 percent up after recently posting a rise in quarterly earnings. Kuwait Finance House rose nearly 1 percent. Egyptian stocks, which have been the best performers in the Middle East this year with gains of 13.7 percent, ended 0.1 percent up on Sunday, led by financials. Gains were capped by selling in Global Telecom Holding , which dropped 1.5 percent. The stock has been volatile since Amsterdam-based VEON Holdings, an existing shareholder, submitted a recent mandatory takeover offer for the telecoms company. SAUDI The index rose 0.5 pct to 8,534 points ARABIA DUBAI The index rose 0.3 pct to 2,642 points QATAR The market was closed for a holiday ABU DHABI The index fell 0.3 pct to 5120 points EGYPT The index rose 0.1 pct to 14,820 points KUWAIT The index rose 0.8 pct to 5,525 points OMAN The index fell 0.2 pct to 4,138 points BAHRAIN The index rose 0.3 pct to 1,417 points ($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham) ($1 = 3.7502 riyals) (Additional reporting by Marwa Rashad Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and David Goodman)
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.