Most Gulf stock markets closed either flat or lower on Tuesday as oil prices remained volatile and local companies delivered no positive fourth-quarter earnings surprises.
Brent crude oil fell in early trade on Tuesday after the International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for global economic growth in 2015, implying lower demand for fuel.
However, the commodity’s price rose above $49 per barrel later in the day, supporting Saudi Arabia’s bourse which, unlike other Gulf markets, was still open.
The main Saudi index was nearly flat as petrochemicals giant Saudi Basic Industries, whose earnings are correlated with oil prices, rose 0.9 percent.
But shares in Saudi Telecom Co (STC) tumbled 5.2 percent. The company’s fourth-quarter net profit slumped 32.6 percent to 2.44 billion riyals ($650 million), missing analysts’ average forecast of 3.32 billion riyals.
Another stock in the sector, Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) , fell 3.6 percent while the third major local operator, Zain Saudi, was flat.
National Industrialisation Co (Tasnee) dropped 2.5 percent after it said fourth-quarter net profit dropped 46.5 percent on lower petrochemical prices. The company made 160.7 million riyals, while analysts at Saudi Fransi Capital had expected 295.0 million riyals.
Most other Gulf markets pulled back. Dubai’s index slipped 0.4 percent as most stocks declined. However, low-cost carrier Air Arabia, which stands to benefit from cheaper oil, gained 1.8 percent.
Logistics firm Aramex, which could also see its fuel costs go down, added 1.0 percent.
Abu Dhabi’s bourse fell 0.9 percent as large lenders Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and First Gulf Bank lost 1.2 and 2.1 percent respectively.
Qatar’s benchmark slipped 0.3 percent, also because of banks. Islamic lender Masraf Al Rayan fell 1.8 percent and Qatar National Bank lost 1.2 percent.
Egypt’s bourse jumped 2.1 percent, largely on the back of property stocks such as Talaat Moustafa Holding , which added 2.4 percent, and Palm Hills Development , up 3.2 percent.
Egypt’s central bank started allowing some depreciation of the pound this week, a move which analysts said aimed to stamp out a thriving black currency market as inflation concerns eased following the slump in oil prices.
“Conventionally under such situations, real estate stocks should continue performing well, as investors would look to buffer their risks by investing in land and property,” Cairo-based Naeem brokerage said in a note.
* The index edged down 0.4 percent to 3,878 points.
* The index fell 0.9 percent to 4,526 points.
* The index inched up 0.01 percent to 8,484 points.
* The index slipped 0.3 percent to 11,862 points.
* The index jumped 2.1 percent to 9,804 points.
* The index edged up 0.3 percent to 6,646 points.
* The index inched down 0.1 percent to 6,652 points.
* The index added 0.3 percent to 1,436 points.