Region to consolidate, Qatar may react to corporate earnings

Middle Eastern stock markets look set to consolidate on Wednesday with no strong factors pushing in either direction, although Qatar and Saudi Arabia may react to corporate earnings.

Wall Street was flat to higher on Tuesday with the Nasdaq up 0.71 percent, the S&P 500 up 0.22 percent and the Dow down a tiny 0.01 percent, while Asian stocks are slightly soft on Wednesday morning. Brent oil is at $69.77 a barrel, not far off the three-year high of $70.37 reached on January 15.

In Qatar, Doha Bank reported 6 percent growth in annual net profit, an acceleration from 3 percent growth in the first nine months, while it kept its annual dividend unchanged despite pressures from the embargo on Qatar.

Qatar Insurance reported annual net profit dropped to 418 million riyals ($114.8 million) from 1 billion riyals a year earlier, in line with expectations, and kept its cash and stock dividends unchanged.

Medicare Group reported a 23 percent rise in annual profit, accelerating from 2 percent growth in the first nine months, and hiked its dividend to 4 riyals a share from 3 riyals. However, the stock has already soared since November in anticipation of the results.

Meanwhile, Zain Saudi announced annual net profit of 12 million riyals ($3.2 million) for last year; it had posted a nine-month profit of 57 million riyals in the first nine months, implying a fourth-quarter loss of 45 million riyals, below NCB Capital’s forecast of an 8 million riyal profit.

Its subscriber base decreased 24 percent – a drop it has blamed on the country’s SIM card registration policy – but annual revenues rose slightly.

In Cairo, Telecom Egypt may rise after saying it had reached a final settlement with Etisalat Misr in their dispute over international call services; Telecom Egypt will pay $48 million out of total exposure of $100 million, it said.

Source: Reuters