Gulf stocks consolidate in early trade, Saudi banks lose steam

Stock markets in the Arab gulf consolidated in early trade Monday as Saudi banks, which had led the local bourse up for eight days after Riyadh’s sovereign bond sale eased concern about tight liquidity in the economy, lost steam.

The main Saudi stock index, which had gained 9.5 percent during the eight-day rally, edged down 0.03 percent in the first half-hour as the banking sector index fell 0.02 percent.

The biggest lender, National Commercial Bank, continued climbing, however, adding 1.4 percent. On Sunday, it was by far the sector’s top gainer, surging 7.7 percent in its heaviest trade since July 2015.

The most heavily traded stock on Monday, telecommunications firm Zain Saudi, added 4.2 percent and rival Mobily rose 2.0 percent.

Dubai’s index edged up 0.3 percent but courier Aramex dropped 2.2 percent after its third-quarter earnings came in at the low end of expectations.

Aramex reported a 3 percent fall in profit to 72.2 million dirhams ($19.7 million). EFG Hermes and SICO Bahrain had forecast 75.8 million dirhams and 77.1 million dirhams.

Abu Dhabi’s index added 0.5 percent, however, on the back of the two biggest banks, which plan to merge. National Bank of Abu Dhabi climbed 1.6 percent and First Gulf Bank 1.3 percent.

Qatar was dragged down 0.2 percent as telecommunications operator Ooredoo lost 0.7 percent. It reported a 51 percent fall in third-quarter net profit to 370 million riyals ($101.6 million). The average forecast of three analysts polled by Reuters was for 499.3 million riyals.

Source: Reuters