Qatar stocks rise after budget, SABIC drags down Saudi index

Qatar’s stock market surged at Monday’s early trade after the finance ministry published the 2017 state budget, while large-cap shares weighed on other regional markets.

The index in Qatar, which was closed for a public holiday on Sunday, rose 1.1 percent with 85 percent of shares advancing. Petrochemical and metals producer Industries Qatar was the top performer, adding 2.1 percent.

On Thursday Qatar published a 2017 budget which projected a deficit of 28.3 billion riyals ($7.8 billion), much smaller than the originally projected 2016 deficit, and total spending of 198.4 billion riyals, down from 202.5 billion riyals.

Although that is slightly contractionary, it is less contractionary than the 2016 budget, and the government plans to increase capital spending next year. It did not announce any major new austerity measures, and the budget’s conservative oil price assumption of $45 a barrel suggests the government has plenty of room to meet its targets next year.

Dubai’s main index lost 0.1 percent in thin trade on Monday morning. Emaar Properties edged down 0.1 percent.

Blue chips were also weak in Abu Dhabi, where the index slipped 0.2 percent; First Gulf Bank was down 0.4 percent.

In Saudi Arabia, the index was dragged 0.4 percent lower by a 2.6 percent drop in the largest listed stock, Saudi Basic Industries, after the company announced a lower cash dividend for the second half of this year compared to a year earlier.

Rising stocks slightly outnumbered losers, however, and seven of the 10 most heavily traded stocks were higher. Saudi Cable Co, which rose 2.5 percent on Sunday after saying its Turkish subsidiary had won a $50 million order, climbed a further 5.8 percent.

Source: Reuters