Gulf Stocks mixed; Emaar, FGB weigh on UAE markets

Gulf stock markets were narrowly mixed Thursday while Egypt extended its recovery after a fresh cash injection from the oil-rich Gulf states.

Brent crude oil rose above $63 a barrel on Thursday as Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen continued despite an earlier announcement by Riyadh that the campaign was ending. Geopolitical tensions are a modest negative for many retail investors in the Gulf, but stronger oil is widely seen as positive.

Saudi Arabia’s stock index edged up 0.4 percent thanks to petrochemicals. Saudi International Petrochemical Co (Sipchem) surged 4.8 percent and was the main support. The firm said this week that it had finished testing a new plastics plant owned by an affiliate..

National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia (Bahri), which Reuters reported this week is looking to buy up to 10 tankers for about $1 billion, jumped 3.9 percent.

Al Rajhi Company for Cooperative Insurance climbed a further 3.0 percent after earlier this week reporting a 47 percent jump from a year earlier in first-quarter net profit, aided by strong growth in net contributions and lower policy acquisition costs.

Saudi Arabia’s index continues to struggle with major technical resistance in the 9,572-9,745 point area, where the 200-day average roughly coincides with the March peak.

UAE, EGYPT

Dubai’s index fell 1.1 percent largely because of Emaar Properties, the emirate’s biggest listed developer, which dropped 3.1 percent as its shares went ex-dividend.

Builder Arabtec fell 3.7 percent after failing, because of the lack of a quorum, to hold an annual shareholder meeting which was due to approve a bonus share issue, and postponing the meeting by a week.

Among major gainers, Dubai Parks and Resorts was one of the market’s most heavily traded stocks, climbing as much as 7.1 percent to a record high of 0.994 dirham during the day after disclosing on Wednesday more details of its planned $2.9 billion amusement park complex, which is to be completed in 2016. The stock closed 4.4 percent higher on its heaviest volume in seven weeks.

Commercial Bank of Dubai rose 4.0 percent after posting a 3.6 percent increase in first-quarter profit.

Abu Dhabi’s stock index fell 1.6 percent as major lender First Gulf Bank sank 3.8 percent after reporting first-quarter net profit of 1.42 billion dirhams ($386.7 million), slightly short of the average analyst forecast of 1.51 billion dirhams.

The stock had jumped 2.3 percent on Wednesday in anticipation of strong earnings and was up 19 percent from its March low, so it was vulnerable to profit-taking.

Qatar’s index edged up 0.5 percent as most stocks rose. Project awards, one of the key drivers of economic growth, accelerated during the first quarter in Qatar and Kuwait while slowing in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank said in a report on Thursday.

Conglomerate Mannai Corp gained 1.1 percent after saying its first-quarter profit climbed 10.1 percent from a year earlier to 165.2 million riyals ($45.4 million).

However, Commercial Bank of Qatar dropped 2.8 percent. It posted a 15.3 percent drop in first-quarter net profit to 452.3 million riyals; analysts had on average forecast 546.9 million riyals.

Kuwait and Oman edged up 0.4 and 0.2 percent respectively.

Egypt’s index climbed 1.2 percent, building on Wednesday’s 0.6 percent gain, which followed five sessions of declines. Heavyweight Commercial International Bank climbed 1.1 percent. The lender said this week it would submit a binding offer to acquire Citigroup’s retail portfolio in Egypt.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates deposited $6 billion with Egypt’s central bank on Wednesday, the bank’s governor told Reuters. The news confirmed previous pledges of aid but may have aided market sentiment.

THURSDAY’S HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index edged up 0.4 percent to 9,615 points.

DUBAI
 

* The index fell 1.1 percent to 4,088 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index lost 1.6 percent to 4,632 points.

QATAR

* The index rose 0.5 percent to 12,050 points.

EGYPT

* The index rose 1.2 percent to 8,731 points.

KUWAIT

* The index edged up 0.4 percent to 6,331 points.

OMAN

* The index climbed 0.2 percent to 6,360 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index slipped 0.2 percent to 1,398 points.

Source: Reuters

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