Gulf stock markets mostly soft in early trade

Gulf stock markets mostly inched down at Thursday’s early trade in the absence of fresh news to prompt buying, with much activity in Saudi Arabia and Dubai focusing on second-tier stocks rather than blue chips.

The Saudi index slipped 0.1 percent in the first 45 minutes as loss-making Nama Chemicals, which had soared in the last few days after it announced the outline of a recovery plan, pulled back 7.3 percent.

Atheeb Telecom added a further 2.9 percent, however, after jumping 9.4 percent on Wednesday in response to the sale of some of its tower network for 230 million riyals ($61.3 million) to Saudi Telecom Co.

Dubai’s index slipped 0.3 percent as blue chip Emaar Properties fell 1.2 percent, but six of the 10 most heavily traded stocks rose and only two fell. Builder Drake & Scull, the most active stock, rose 4.9 percent.

Abu Dhabi dropped as telecommunications blue chip Etisalat fell 1.9 percent; earlier this week the holding company for rival du said it was launching Virgin Mobile-brand services in the United Arab Emirates.

Sharjah Islamic Bank sank 4.4 percent after releasing preliminary results for last year which showed a 12.9 percent rise in net profit.

In Qatar, the index edged up 0.3 percent as banks climbed, with Qatar National Bank adding 1.9 percent. Qatar Electricity and Water fell 0.4 percent after reporting a 13.8 percent drop in fourth-quarter net profit to 310 million riyals ($85.2 million); EFG Hermes had forecast 386.1 million riyals and QNB Financial Services, 388.2 million riyals. The board kept the 2016 dividend flat from 2015.

Source: Reuters