Reforms fail to lift Saudi stock market, Gulf bourse dips

Gulf stock markets fell back Tuesday because of lower oil prices and a lack of positive drivers, while Saudi Arabia’s bourse failed to get an immediate boost from reforms designed to stimulate trading and draw fresh foreign money.

Brent crude futures fell about 1 percent on Tuesday after a 3 percent drop on Monday, encouraging Gulf investors to take profits on stock market gains made over the past several weeks.

The Saudi index fell 1.2 percent as petrochemical blue chip Saudi Basic Industries lost 2.4 percent.

Jarir Marketing fell 1.5 percent and Saudi Hollandi Bank lost 1.9 percent as both stocks went ex-dividend.

The Capital Market Authority said it would lower the minimum assets-under-management requirement for foreign institutions investing directly in the market, and ease foreign ownership restrictions. For example, each foreign investor will be allowed to own a stake of just under 10 percent of a single company; previously, the ceiling was 5 percent.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Stock Exchange said it would introduce the settlement of trades within two working days of execution, a reform that could help the market join MSCI global indexes. Currently, settlement is same-day, which is inconvenient for many foreign investors.

The reforms will not be implemented before 2017, and other factors such as high valuations and low oil prices have also been deterring foreign investors, so the market did not react.

Dubai’s index sank 1.8 percent, while Abu Dhabi dropped 2.0 percent as some banks remained soft after last week’s disappointing first-quarter earnings, with Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank losing 4.3 percent.

Qatar fell 1.5 percent as real estate firm Ezdan Holding, which lost 2.7 percent on Monday after reporting its first-quarter earnings, dropped a further 3.8 percent.

TUESDAY’S HIGHLIGHTS

SAUDI ARABIA

* The index fell 1.2 percent to 6,638 points.

DUBAI

* The index dropped 1.8 percent to 3,324 points.

ABU DHABI

* The index slipped 2.0 percent to 4,382 points.

QATAR

* The index fell 1.5 percent to 9,939 points.

KUWAIT

* The index edged up 0.1 percent to 5,375 points.

OMAN

* The index rose 0.5 percent to 5,984 points.

BAHRAIN

* The index fell 0.3 percent to 1,109 points.

Source: Reuters

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